Woods defends compensation deal

Monday 25 May 2009 12.14
Abuse report - Prompted huge number of calls to helplines
Abuse report - Prompted huge number of calls to helplines

The former Fianna Fáil minister, Dr Michael Woods, has strongly defended the deal, which he brokered, between the State and Catholic religious orders on child abuse compensation.

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Mr Woods said the State knew at the time of the deal that the State carried the biggest part of the responsibility and the Government of the day was determined to make compensation to the victims in any event.

His comments came as pressure mounted tonight for a review of the agreement, which capped the orders' liability at €128m.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny promised that in Government his party would investigate whether or not it was legally possible to re-negotiate the agreement.

However, Dr Woods, said most of the compensation has been paid by now and there is no 'big bill' outstanding.

CORI: No plans to renegotiate compensation

The Conference of Religious in Ireland said it is not aware of plans by religious orders to renegotiate their deal with the Government capping their contribution to the State compensation scheme for victims of abuse.

The controversy sparked by the Ryan Commission's landmark findings turned political yesterday evening with Minister for Education Batt O’Keeffe ruling out - for legal reasons - any renegotiation of the Catholic Church's liability to compensate survivors.

Minister O'Keeffe invited the Catholic congregations to consider shouldering more of the burden.

The Christian Brothers' responded that the deal was made in good faith and was the fairest that could have been struck seven years ago.

CORI, which facilitated the 18 Orders in making it, said it was not aware that any of them was planning a renegotiation.

The Taoiseach has said the State has a contingent liability when it came to the care of minors.

Brian Cowen said children who suffered abuse did so under State supervision.

He said the Government was anxious that the truth of what happened be told.

Mr Cowen said from the Government point of view the role of the State is to insure survivors are assisted in every way possible.
He added that the focus must be on the victims and survivors of abuse.

Church has moral responsibility, says Gormley

Environment Minister John Gormley, has said there is a 'moral responsibility on the Church authorities to live up to their Christian values' in relation to the scheme.

Mr Gormley said he had not had a chance to look into the legal issues surrounding the possible re-opening of the deal between the religious orders and the Government.

But he said there was a need to get around those legal niceties and to ensure that the church made an adequate contribution.

Mr Gormley said he had not had a chance to discuss this issue with his Government colleagues or the Attorney General.

Meanwhile, the Commission's unprecedented official confirmation that the religious institutionally abused tens of thousands of children after the courts locked them up in Catholic institutions has triggered a mounting cry for help from abuse victims.

Last night, there were some 520 calls to two out-of-hours helplines run by Connect and the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre: an increase of 80% over Wednesday night.

Book of condolence in Dublin

Dublin City is to open a Book of Solidarity for the victims of abuse in Ireland.

Lord Mayor of Dublin Eibhlin Byrne said she had been approached throughout the city by people wishing to express their solidarity with those that had suffered abuse as children.

The Mansion House will be open on Saturday and Sunday to allow members of the public sign the book.

Helplines

The HSE offers a free National Counselling Service for anyone who has suffered childhood abuse on 1800 235 234.

The related Connect service, for out of hours contact, is on 1800 235 235 from the Republic of Ireland (freephone)
00800 235 235 55 from Britain and Northern Ireland (free from landlines). www.connectcounselling.ie

National 24hr Helpline for Rape and Sexual Abuse
Freephone: 1800-778888

CORI
Freephone: 1800-331234 / 0800-973272 (NI & Britain)

Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy
Freephone: 1800-303174 or 0808-2342816 (NI & Britain)

Right of Place
Freephone: 1800-200709

Faoiseamh
Freephone
: 1800-331234 / 0800-973272 (NI & Britain)
(Open Mondays and Wednesdays 11am - 8pm, Fridays 11am to 4pm)

If callers leave a message and a contact number - the call will be returned as soon as possible.

Dublin Rape Crisis Centre
Freephone: 1800-778888 (24hr)