Orders say 'No' to new abuse deal

Wednesday 27 May 2009 11.46
1 of 4
Ryan Report - Religious Orders meeting in Maynooth
Ryan Report - Religious Orders meeting in Maynooth
Dermot Ahern - Speaking to AG about abuse cases
Dermot Ahern - Speaking to AG about abuse cases
Cardinal Sean Brady - Deal should be revisited
Cardinal Sean Brady - Deal should be revisited
Dr Diarmuid Martin - Orders' failure to pay 'stunning'
Dr Diarmuid Martin - Orders' failure to pay 'stunning'

Religious congregations say they will not reopen discussions on the child abuse compensation deal agreed with the Government.

Following a day-long meeting the group and the Conference of Religious in Ireland have released statements reaffirming their commitment to survivors of abuse.

The Minister for Justice has said the gardaí are examining the report of the Commission of Inquiry into Child Abuse to see if criminal charges can be proffered in any of the cases.

Dermot Ahern said the Government had taken some action in conjunction with the Redress Board in 2001.

He said he was examining the issue with the Attorney General to see if it could be looked at again.

Minister Ahern also said he has discussed with the Attorney General the matter of expunging victims' criminal records.

Meanwhile, Garda Commissioner Factna Murphy said he had appointed Assistant Commissioner Derek Byrne, who is in charge of the Garda's Specialist Units, to examine Mr Justice Ryan's report from a criminal justice point of view.

Commissioner Murphy said the review would take some time as the events it covered took place a long time ago and the perpetrators of physical and sexual abuse were not named in the report.

Minister Ahern welcomed the remarks today by Cardinal Brady and other churchmen in relation to revisiting the compensation deal agreed between the Church and the State.

His comments come as calls mount for a review of the indemnity deal made between the Government and the religious orders.

Leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland Cardinal Sean Brady has said the deal to compensate the victims of sex abuse in residential institutions run by religious orders should be revisited.

Speaking in Maynooth, where senior bishops are meeting to consider their response to the report of the Commission on Child Abuse, Cardinal Brady said any new deal should bear in mind the needs of victims.

He said the issues at present in Ireland would be discussed with Pope Benedict.

Read the executive summary

Access the report in full

Cardinal Brady said it is important the Pope knows what the situation in Ireland is and that such a meeting takes place.

Earlier, the Archbishop of Dublin called on religious orders, cited in the Ryan Report, to pay their agreed contribution to the State scheme which compensates victims of abuse.

In an interview with The Irish Times, Dr Diarmuid Martin described as ‘stunning’ their failure, seven years on, to have paid the agreed €128m contribution.

He said legal difficulties were really a poor excuse for not having done this.

The Archbishop urged the 18 orders to invest substantially in supporting survivors and their families.

Dr Martin observed that, in many ways, this was the last chance for these orders to render honour to their charismatic founders and to their own many good members who felt tarnished.

Dr Martin has said any criminal matters arising out of the Ryan report should be pursued by gardaí.

He said criminal responsibility must be investigated and that any activity considered criminal should be referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Dr Martin said congregations must come forward and explain how they intend dealing with recognition and admission of what happened.

The Archbishop said a lack of supervision and a culture of denial are two major issues which the congregations involved suffered from, both of which must be overcome.

Opposition calls for a review

Labour leader Eamon Gilmore says Taoiseach Brian Cowen should meet with the religious orders to re negotiate the controversial indemnity deal.

Mr Gilmore has also called on a Dáil appointed investigator to examine how the original agreement was reached.

The Labour leader suggests the issues that needed to be examined are the imbalance between the contributions to be made by the taxpayer and the religious orders in compensating victims.

Also, he said comments by the former Minister Michael Woods on how the compensation deal was negotiated were not sufficient.

O'Gorman says remarks a step forward

One in Four founder Colm O'Gorman said the suggestions by the two church leaders - that there needed to be ‘a whole Church response’ to the Ryan Report - were a step forward.

However, Mr O'Gorman said it needed to be recognised that justice will not be done because there will not be accountability.

But, he said, there still could be financial accountability.

Meanwhile, One in Four has welcomed the statements by Cardinal Brady and Archbishop Martin calling on the religious congregations to reconsider the compensation.

However, there are concerns that the focus on financial responsibility is diverting attention from the needs of the survivors.

Executive Director Maeve Lewis said: 'While the Ryan Report was devastating, One in Four is pleased that it has provoked our two most senior Catholic churchmen to question the actions of the religious congregations'.

She said that One in Four has been inundated with calls from people seeking access to advocacy and psychotherapy services.

Many callers are very angry that the abusers mentioned in the report may never have to answer for what they did, she said.

Meanwhile, a group set up to defend religious institutions, lay workers and people falsely accused of abuse in religious run institutions has called for a renegotiation of the compensation scheme of abuse survivors.

Let Our Voices Emerge (LOVE) say the sheer level of abuse was not revealed to them by the church leaders they supported.

The group says the level of abuse was appalling and criticised leaders for starving institutions of vital funding.

It says Catholic supporters are confused and angry and the leaders of the church must listen to what its members are saying.

LOVE says if an increase in church contributions to the redress scheme is called for it must be delivered.

Government to meet over report

The Government is to hold a special meeting this week to discuss the fall-out from the Child Abuse Commission report.

It will also be discussing whether the Catholic Church should contribute more to compensation funds for the victims of institutional abuse.

Yesterday, Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan said the Church should pay more.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen has said the Government will be getting legal advice from the Attorney General, but stressed it may not have the legal capacity to compel the religious orders to pay more if they do not volunteer to do so.