5th July, 2011 ?
Minister Quinn expresses disappointment at level of contributions offered by religious congregations to meet costs of residential institutional child abuse and seeks meetings.
The Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn T.D., is announcing how the government plans to progress issues raised in the follow up to the Ryan Report. The following matters are being addressed:
Contributions towards the costs of the Response to Redress by the 18 religious congregations:
The Statutory Fund
The future of the Redress Board The Memorial Committee
Contributions Towards the Costs of the Response to Redress
The final cost of the response to residential institutional child abuse is estimated to be in the region of €1.36 billion. The Government believes that this cost should be shared on a 50:50 basis, between the taxpayer and those responsible for managing the institutions where horrendous child abuse took place.
However, the offers from the religious congregations to date have fallen far short of the amount needed. Under the 2002 Indemnity Agreement, the 18 congregations involved agreed to provide a contribution of €128 million, comprising cash, property and counselling services.
In 2009, they proposed putting up just over €100 million in cash and offered to transfer property, mainly in the health and education sectors, that they valued at €235.5 million, to various State agencies and voluntary organisations.
Responding to these proposals, Minister Quinn acknowledged some progress had been made, but expressed his disappointment at the offers to date.
“Of the properties offered to the State, only 12 have been identified as of potential immediate benefit to the State and these will be pursued. In fact, only a quarter of the total property offers made to date by the congregations are of current interest to the State. The value of these 12 properties, based on the congregations’ own valuations, is approximately €60 million,” said Minister Quinn.
Minister Quinn also followed up on the call in April 2010 by the last government for the religious congregations to augment their original contribution of €348.5 million in order to meet half of the costs of the response to residential institutional child abuse. He has written to them seeking a meeting to discuss their response to date.
“Despite the State’s call for the congregations to supplement their original offers, only two out of the 18 congregations have replied positively to make up a shortfall of some €200 million. One congregation has offered to give €1 million towards the costs of the National Children’s Hospital and to refund some or all of its legal costs, while another offered to transfer a former primary school. None of the other congregations have supplemented their original offers,” said Minister Quinn.
“The congregations’ total offers fall well short, by several hundred million, of the €680 million contribution they should bear towards the cost of institutional residential child abuse. In April, I called on the orders to consider handing over appropriate school infrastructure as a way to make progress towards the 50:50 target contribution. I reiterate that call now.”
With the Government’s approval, Minister Quinn proposes to seek the congregations’ agreement to a legal mechanism which would ensure that title to school infrastructure properties would be transferred to the State, at the State’s request, and that title to such properties could not be altered, whether by sale on the open market or by transfer into any Trust arrangement, without the prior consent of the Department.
In addition, the Government is requesting the congregations to offer to transfer their properties that are currently rented by the State and properties that are identified as being of specific interest to the State. This overall approach will aim to ensure that if the State were to seek the transfer of any of the school infrastructure owned by the congregations, it could then do so.
Commenting on this proposal, the Minister noted “I recognise that there are complex legal issues to be addressed to realise the transfer of school infrastructure. Nevertheless I believe that this approach affords the congregations involved the opportunity to shoulder their share of the costs of responding to the horrendous wrongs suffered by children in their care, while at the same time, recognising the legitimate legacy of their contribution to Irish education.”
The management bodies of other institutions included within the Redress Scheme have also been approached to make a contribution towards the costs involved and their potential to similarly transfer school infrastructure will be explored.
The Government is to proceed with legislation to establish a Residential Institutions Statutory Fund, to support the victims of residential institutional abuse, as endorsed by the Dáil in the aftermath of the Ryan Report. This follows extensive consultations with survivors of residential abuse and the groups which support them, together with a public consultation process.
Some €110 million, essentially the cash portion of the offers from the congregations, will be used to fund the trust. Announcing the measure, Minister Quinn said, “Over 13,000 former residents who have received awards from the Residential Institutions Redress Board will be eligible to apply for support from the Fund and every effort is being made to minimise the administration involved. Some former residents advocate a simple distribution of the available money. However, I believe that the Fund should target resources at services to support former residents’ needs, such as counselling, psychological support services and mental health services, health and personal social services, educational services and housing services.”
To date, contributions of €20.6m have been received towards the Statutory Fund. These and the remaining contributions to be received will be invested in an investment account to be established by the National Treasury Management Agency.
The Education Finance Board will be dissolved and the Statutory Fund will assume its functions to disburse the remaining moneys. As responsibility for information for survivors will also be taken on by the Statutory Fund, funding of survivor groups by the Department of Education will cease.
The Residential Institutions Redress Board will be wound down. The Board was set-up in 2002 to provide fair and reasonable financial awards to victims of institutional childhood abuse. The original closing date for receipt of applications under the Redress Scheme was December, 2005, although the Board can accept late applications in exceptional circumstances.
As it is now almost six years since the original closing date and as it is necessary to remove the Board’s power to consider late applications in order to wind-up the Redress Board, the Government has approved the drafting of amending legislation. The Minister expects to enact the necessary legislation to remove the Board’s power to consider late applications received after 16th September 2011. The Minister thanked the Redress Board and its chair, Judge Esmond Smyth, for their work to date.
The Memorial Committee appointed to oversee the erection of a memorial to victims of institutional abuse, as recommended in the Ryan Report, has reported to the Minister on its work to date. This involved a public consultation process and meetings with survivor groups and other interested parties. The Minister has approved the Committee’s proposal to advance to the competition stage for the Memorial and the Committee will now seek expressions of interest.
Minister Quinn will shortly be meeting with groups representing survivors of residential institutional abuse and representatives of the religious congregations in relation to the measures announced today.
Note for Editors:
Please see below link to the contribution offers from congregations:
The congregations offer towards redress:
Under the 2002 Indemnity Agreement, 18 congregations are providing a contribution of €128m comprising cash, property and counselling services. The realisation of this contribution is being pursued and while the completion of the legal arrangements in the case of 24 properties remains outstanding, the physical transfers of these properties have taken place.
In response to the call for them to make further substantial additional contributions following the publication of the Ryan Report, 16 of the 18 Congregations offered additional contributions which they valued at €348.51m and which included various property transfer proposals, valued at €235.51m, to different State bodies and voluntary organisations. One congregation offered 16 properties to the Statutory Fund.
The property offers to the State have now been considered and 12 of these have been identified to be of immediate potential benefit to the State. The Government has agreed that these property offers be pursued, subject to suitability, valuation and good and marketable title being established. The overall aggregate value of these properties amounts to some €60m of the overall €235.51m property valuations from the congregations. The other property offers were not considered to be of immediate interest to the State.
The State has already decided to utilise €110m, essentially the cash element of the congregations’ offers to establish a Statutory Fund to support the needs of survivors of residential institutional child abuse. Accordingly, the government is requesting that these properties be sold and the proceeds provided to the State. In relation to the offers of property to the voluntary sector, only one of the 16 properties the religious offered has been deemed of benefit to the State, and therefore the Government cannot count the other property offers as part of the contribution towards the response to residential institutional abuse.
In 2010, recognising the potential shortfall of over €200m to reach the 50% share of some €680m, the previous Government called on the congregations to augment their offers so as to realise the 50:50 objective.
Since then, one congregation has offered to provide €1m towards the costs of the National Children’s Hospital and to refund some or all of its legal costs, while another has offered to transfer a former primary school. The remaining congregations have made no additional offers to the government.
Redress Board: ?In 2010, the then Government considered a range of demands for the Redress Scheme to be extended and for awards to be reviewed and decided not to revise the arrangements. By the end of May 2011, the Board had processed 14,592 of the 15,135 applications received. It had made 13,669 awards with an overall average award of €62,875. The Board had 543 applications to finalise and 567 late applications to consider accepting. The overall cost of the Redress Scheme is expected to be some €1.1 billion of the €1.36 billion total cost of the response to residential institutional child abuse and actual expenditure exceeded €1 billion at the end of 2010.
A report on the consultation process and the General Scheme of the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Bill are available on the website of the Department of Education and Skills.