Irish Government to pursue religious orders for €250 million in unpaid compensation to abuse victims
The Cabinet of the Irish Government agreed this week to pursue religious orders for payment of the remaining €250 million needed to make up their half of the cost of €1.46 billion compensation promised to victims of horrific ill-treatment in orphanages, schools, borstals and other institutions run by Catholic monks and nuns. The amount was revised upwards from €1.36 billion after more victims came forward.
Education Minister Ruairi Quinn has been given the task of extracting the money from the orders.
The congregations of priests and nuns initially offered just €128 million in cash, property and counselling services as part of a controversial indemnity deal dating back to 2002. Only €106 million of this was ever realised.
Four of the eighteen orders named in the Ryan Commission that investigated the decades of abuse that was perpetrated have said they are willing to consider transferring more school buildings and other educational infrastructure on top of what has been offered.
Mr Quinn said: “The Government is obviously disappointed that the congregations have not agreed to a 50:50 share of the very considerable cost for redress. This decision represents the most pragmatic way to maximise the level of contributions to be made by the congregations and the management bodies so that the taxpayer does not bear an unreasonable burden of the costs.”
Schools should be allowed to decide on the right balance between their religious ethos and the rights of staff despite plans to give legal protection to gay or divorced teachers, a Catholic schools leader has said.
Changes were proposed this year to employment law that allow schools, hospitals, and other religious-owned employers discriminate on certain grounds to protect their ethos. Unions representing staff the organisations had been lobbying for such changes.
A Department of Justice spokesperson told the Irish Examiner that arrangements are being made to set up the new Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission as soon as possible and they will be asked to undertake an examination of the issue as a priority task.
However, in an article for the Jesuit journal ‘Studies’, the head of the group representing religious orders and the bishops on education issues says much of the criticism of section 37 of the Employment Equality Act is caused by misinterpretation of its intentions.