Sunday 21 April 2019

Religious must pay more than lip service for abuse

Editorial

Editorial

The human cost of child abuse in State-run institutions continues to move us in emotional testimonies. The discovery of human remains in the Tuam Mother and Baby Home has re-awakened some of the horrors of the past.

Now, a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General into the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse and the subsequent redress board looks in detail at the cost.

The 2009 Ryan Report unveiled a litany of neglect and abuse by the State and the religious orders. Both arrived at a deal for a 50:50 split to provide financial compensation to survivors. Both were equally culpable and the biggest benefit for religious orders was legal indemnity.

However, just €192m has so far been realised from religious orders, as the bill looks likely to spiral to €1.5bn.

The orders put forward various reasons, including the economic downturn, which led to fluctuations in value.

Yet the gap between pledges and the sums realised raises major questions about the intent of the orders to keep their side of the agreement, which has spared them a string of expensive court cases and payouts.

The Comptroller urges the Department of Education and Skills to pursue the religious orders. The department says property transfers are being actively pursued. But that is civil service language and fails to set a target or timeline.

The obligation rests with the religious orders and officials to ensure justice is done to survivors and also the taxpayer.

Irish Independent

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