Victims want abusers' names given to gardaí

Wednesday 27 May 2009 22.17
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Daingean Reformatory - Children abused in care of Oblate Order
Daingean Reformatory - Children abused in care of Oblate Order
Sean Healy - Report requires reassessment
Sean Healy - Report requires reassessment

A group of survivors of child abuse has called on 18 religious congregations to hand over to gardaí the names of members who violated children and the files they hold on them.

SOCA Ireland was responding to acceptances by most of the orders implicated in the Ryan report of the Taoiseach's invitation to discuss how they would contribute more in reparation to victims.

The Director of the CORI Justice Commission has also called on religious congregations to act with total transparency in relation to members who have committed crimes of child abuse.

Addressing the Oireachtas Committee on Social and Family Affairs, Fr Sean Healy said a further substantial contribution is needed from religious congregations to the Government's redress scheme.

He said the scale and depth of what is revealed in the Ryan Report requires a reassessment of what has been done to date.

In a statement to the committee, Fr Healy said the religious congregations involved need to seek forgiveness of the Irish people. 'Apologies were not sufficient', he said.

In the Dáil, the Taoiseach said that any additional voluntary contribution from the religious orders must be substantial and commensurate with their resources.

Brian Cowen said the congregations could not be compelled to make extra contributions.

There was a broad welcome from Opposition leaders to last night's Government statement calling on the religious congregations to make extra voluntary contributions towards the victims of abuse.

But both Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore wanted to know how much the Government would be looking for.

Mr Kenny suggested that a full audit of the congregation's assets could be carried out under the Charities Act, while Mr Gilmore warned against a repeat of what he called the 2002 'sweetheart deal' with the orders.

Responding, the Taoiseach said the Government could not legally force the congregations to provide additional funds, and that he did not have a preconceived notion of what would be adequate.

Once the orders disclosed what they had, the Government would decide if it was enough, and whether it would satisfy the court of public opinion.

Religious orders respond

Eight religious congregations have so far said they are willing to discuss how to give further help to those who were victims of abuse.

This morning, the Sisters of St Louis, the Sisters of St Clare, the Sisters of Mercy, the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity, the Good Shepherd Sisters and the Presentation Brothers were the latest religious orders to respond to the Government's initiative.

Last night, the Oblate Order said it would devote substantially more resources towards making up to children abused in its care.

The order ran the notorious Daingean Reformatory in Co Offaly.

This followed the Christian Brothers offer to substantially boost their reparations to victims of systemic abuse in their institutions.

They plan to review how their surplus resources can be used to help victims.

Making his appeal yesterday evening, the Taoiseach warned that those guilty of abuse, no matter when it happened, must face the full rigours of the law.

Mr Cowen also pledged that by July, the Government would discuss a detailed plan to protect children in residential settings by inspecting the facilities regularly and independently.

The Taoiseach stressed that any additional voluntary contribution from the orders must be substantial and commensurate with their resources.

Minister for Children Barry Andrews will draft the detailed plan to implement the recommendations of the Ryan report.

Gilmore: No 'sweetheart deal'

Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore has said any new offer from religious congregations must be an open deal, involving real money and perhaps the transfer of property to a trust.

Speaking on RTÉ's Six-One News, Deputy Gilmore said the reality of the offer remained to be seen, but he added that it cannot be another ‘sweetheart deal’ like the one struck in 2002.

That deal, he said, was inadequate to deal with the needs of victims and was not fair to the taxpayer.

He said that in his view, the religious orders had come forward to make their offer on foot of public pressure.

The new deal must also be brought before the Dáil for approval, he said.

Mr Gilmore also suggested that the Criminal Assets Bureau or Revenue Commissioners should be brought in to carry out an audit of the religious congregations assets.

What had happened to victims was criminal, he said, and an audit was needed because there are issues about whether property or assets are being transferred out in anticipation of additional payments being made.