Orders must pay their fair share

On 2011-07-08, in Child Abuse, by Paddy

By Education Minister Ruairi Quinn
Friday, 8th July 2011

Fairness and equity is the pathway to closure for abuse survivors and orders involved, writes Education Minister Ruairi Quinn

FAIRNESS and equity is a central pillar of this national Government. This is our approach when dealing with all of the difficult decisions and challenges that this country faces. This is also the approach that we have adopted with regard to costs of the response to residential institutional child abuse.

This was one of the darkest chapters in our young state’s history. Horrendous abuse took place in institutions which were meant to care for and protect our most vulnerable citizens, our children. The 18 congregations involved, and the state, failed in their duty of care, and many thousands of people have been left badly damaged and traumatised by their experiences.

The Ryan Report spelt out the scale of the abuse that took place. Following on from its report, Labour and Fine Gael called for the costs of redress to be shared equally between the state and the religious. This view was adopted by the then government in 2010. It was, and it remains, the fair thing to do.

The final cost of the response to residential institutional child abuse is estimated to be in the region of €1.36 billion. However, the offers from the 18 congregations to date have fallen far short of the approximately €680 million needed to meet half of these costs.

Under the 2002 Indemnity Agreement signed by then minister Michael Woods and then taoiseach Bertie Ahern, the religious agreed to provide €128m in cash, property and counselling services.

After the publication of the Ryan Report in 2009, they proposed a further contribution of €348.5m, of which 235m was in property. Of the property offers, only 12 have been identified as of potential immediate benefit to the state. The value of these properties, based on the orders’ own valuation, is €60m.

In April 2010, the then government called on the orders to augment their offers, as they still fell some €200m short of the 50:50 share of costs. Unfortunately, as I confirmed this week, only two congregations replied positively to this call. None of the other congregations have supplemented their original offer. Again, this is disappointing. It means their offers to date fall several hundred million, approximately €375m, short of the target 50:50 contribution.

Let me be clear about this: If the congregations do not meet their fair share, it is the taxpayer who will have shouldered the burden at a time when the perilous state of the country’s finances mean we have to make cuts to services elsewhere.

But, this does not mean that I and the Department of Education and Skills will engage in a witch-hunt of the congregations, or “send in the bailiffs” as it has been erroneously reported elsewhere. Rather, we want to engage with the congregations and see what solutions we can come up with.

One idea the Government has put forward is to seek the orders’ agreement to a legal mechanism that would allow the title to educational infrastructure to be transferred to the state for the benefit of the taxpayer and that the title of any of the education infrastructure owned by congregations would not be altered without the state’s agreement.

I realise there are complex legal issues surrounding such a transfer, particularly in relation to educational infrastructure which may already have been transferred into trusts by the religious.

But, with an open mind and a willingness to address the issues, I believe it can be done.

This approach affords the congregations involved the opportunity to shoulder their share of the costs of responding to the wrongs suffered by children in their care, while recognising the legitimate legacy of their contribution to Irish education.

The religious orders have made an enormous contribution to the lives of so many people in this republic especially through the educational system and this can never be taken from them. I myself am a beneficiary of such an education and I both cherish and respect that.

Therefore, it is not a question of extracting money from the congregations, but rather a question of them paying their fair share alongside the taxpayer towards the costs of the response to residential institutional abuse. I have put forward the transfer of educational infrastructure as one such mechanism, but I am open to hearing others from the religious congregations themselves and I look forward to meeting with them shortly in order to progress this.

We must close this shameful chapter, while never forgetting the pain and suffering endured by the former residents who were abused while in these institutions. We need closure for thousands of survivors of abuse, but also for the congregations which proved so negligent during this time. To do so, I believe the 18 congregations must show willing-ness to admit their wrongs and pay their fair share. That is only right.

This appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Friday, July 08, 2011


9 Responses to “Orders must pay their fair share”

  1. gerry98 says:

    I am so depressed about this corupt ststuary trust fund I feel like closing my eyes and never wakeing up

  2. gerry98 says:

    time for a total change in government, nothing has changed in Ireland the church is the state. I remember the Fear of the Roman Catholic Church by the whole population .I am still to scared to come back to Ireland (my own country) for a visit.every time I want to come over I start getting Nightmares and feel sick so I don’t make it over my case has been packed for 6 months I booked the Hotel several times I just CAN’T do it . the fear still lives in my mind.I also have a fear of those group leaders and their friends attacking and shouting at me .Bertie Ahern caused this problem.

  3. Rose says:

    Time for a major protest march in Dublin?

  4. One situation I believe remains and that is that the Church as I understand still has representation on various Department committees, including the Dept. of Education. Maybe the there should be representation form other interested parties on this committee too, in the interest of fairness and balance.


  5. robert says:

    for those who do not know just as I never knew the redress is not to be taken into account when claiming basic social welfare allowance, but how ever it is taken into consideration regarding community welfare that is means tested, Shame on IRELAND’S GOVERNMENT AND REDRESS DECISIONS.

  6. It might be better to send the bailiffs to Rome. thats the headquarters.All the files and other documents are proberly copied and sent there. The vatican dont seem any poorer since the money crises.So the bankers thay have would be able to face this problem. After all its only buisness.

  7. Evin Daly says:

    ‘Closure’ is a luxury afforded the observer not the victim.

    That politicians don’t understand this is disturbing – despite all that has happened over the past 15 years, they are obviously and painfully unaware of the dynamics of abuse. Not every victim can move on; it’s not right to expect them to just because it is convenient to do so.

    Minister Quinn say that ‘FAIRNESS and equity is a central pillar of this national Government.’ It isn’t. If it were there would be bankers and clergy serving hard time in jail. If it were perpetrators of abuse would not be free to roam the streets of Rathgar admiring children (O’Grady) or enjoying the Florida sunshine next to Disney World (Gibney).

    There is no engaging congregations to ‘pay their fair share.’ The intentional use of the world ‘congregation’ is by definition adding the parishioners of the church into the mix. It is the Church not the parishioners who owe victims.

    Further there is no asking taxpayers to pay. Victims are taxpayers; and congregants too. By asking them to pay you are asking victims to pay for their own victimization. And you are asking the public to pay for something that has nothing to do with them.

    Victims are owed compensation by the Church by law and decree. I see the hand of the Church in the writing of Minister Quinn’s article; why else would he defend the undefendable and attempt to dilute the blame?

    If the Church and orders don’t pay up then by all means it is correct to “send in the bailiffs.”

  8. Albert & Mary King says:

    Paddy, after reading the article “Orders must pay their fair share” by Education Minister Ruairi Quinn we are concerned by its contents because Education Minister Ruairi Quinn is showing clear signs of weakness towards the 18 congregations which is in complete contradiction of the following extract from his speech in Dáil Eireann on Tuesday 7th July 2009 when proposing the Institutional Child Abuse Bill 2009 in Labour Party Private Members Time. The Bill sets out to deal with the following main areas: * Expanding the definitions of child and institution so that no victim of abuse is denied justice through the Redress Board.* The expanded definitions of child and institution in the Bill will necessitate a new time period for new applications to the Redress Board.* The Bill will abolish the obligation of secrecy which effectively prohibited applicants to the Redress Board from talking about their childhood and time in the institutions.* The Bill proposes that persons who were detained in Reformatory Schools under criminal convictions must be treated for all purposes in law as not guilty of an offence. Their records will be wied clean.* The records of the Redress Board and the Child Abuse Commission (Ryan Commission)will be preserved.* The Bill opens up the 2002 Indemnity Deal to Freedom of Information requests.*Enables an audit of the Religious Orders Assets.The Bill confers power on the Government to appoint an Auditor to examine the Financial Affairs of the 18 Religious Orders who signed the 2002 Indemnity Agreement. This will allow the government to assess the true wealth of the Religious Orders for future renegotiation of the 2002 agreement.Its for this reason one would expect Education Minister Ruairi Quinn to vote down the “General Scheme of a Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Bill, 2011” and remind himself of the submissions made by the majority victims of institutional child abuse who are against the aforementioned Bill and remind himself of the concerns and issues in relation to the Redress Board and the Education Finance Board which are a complete sham.     

  9. Hi:
    How much has been paid under the old deal?
    How much remains outstanding from this time?

    If there are payments still outstanding from what is called the old deal, then why not send in the baillifs?

    I assume that monies were paid from the State as part of the Old Deal for specific services that were agreed.

    If so, how could this be considered fair to the taxpayer.

    Can I have the same type of deal for my bills?