Taoiseach urges church to honour agreement on abuse compensation

Several religious orders have moved to defend their contributions

Taoiseach urges church to honour agreement on abuse compensation

File Photo. Picture by James Horan/RollingNews.ie

Updated: 16:55

The Taoiseach has urged the church to reflect following revelations religious orders have not come close to meeting their obligations regarding contributions towards compensation for survivors of institutional abuse.

It follows a report from the Comptroller and Auditor General that shows just 13% has been received from religious institutions of the promised 50/50 compensation split with the State.

The report confirms that congregations have so far offered the equivalent of about 23% of the cost, while contributions actually received represent about 13%.

The report - published by the Department of Education - revealed that by the end of 2015, the combined costs of the commission which inquired into the child abuse and the Redress Scheme were an estimated €1.5bn.

Initial estimates had placed the cost at €250 million.

Speaking in Brussels today, Enda Kenny said he is hopeful the church will face up to its original agreement:

“I would hope that the church would reflect upon the agreement that it entered in to,” he said. “I hope the church can measure up to what it agreed to originally.”

"Massively disappointed"

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Richard Bruton said religious orders need to pay their share.

He argued: "I'm massively disappointed that 15 years on from the Indemnity Agreement - which relieved the religious orders of any case being taken against them - we're still so far off meeting the level of contribution that was expected.”

"The Government continues to believe a 50/50 share-out was appropriate, and I'm going to seek to meet the orders to pursue this further."

He added: "A lot of it is, to be honest, moral pressure. The Indemnity Agreement, written back in 2002 by the then Fianna Fáil government, took away the legal route. So they have been exonerated of any indemnity payment - they can't be sued in the courts.

"These are institutions that set out to serve the public to provide moral leadership in our country. I think there is a sense of obligation they have to honour the commitments they have made."

Moral Code

Meanwhile, the Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe said the orders have failed to pay what they should have – and urged the institutions to hold themselves to the same moral code they expect of others:

“For organisations that have played a really valuable and important role in our country in pointing to higher code and an ethos as to how we treat each other; to find ourselves in a situation that has not been discharged in relation to making the funding available to the state is hugely disappointing,” he said.

Church contribution

A number of religious orders have moved to defend their contributions to date.

The Christian Brothers said they have paid €24 million to date with another €10m on the way after property sales later this year.

“Despite a dramatic reduction in asset values throughout the recession, the Congregation is on course to honour in full the voluntary pledges it made to redress and to education and welfare in 2009," the Christian Brothers said in a statement.

The Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy, meanwhile, said it has honoured all of its commitments.

In a statement, the organisation said it had "contributed property and cash measured in the sum of €33,091,114 pursuant to the Indemnity Agreement of 2001".

"Following the publication of the Ryan Report the Congregation committed to making an additional contribution which in December 2009 was valued at €127,506,800," the congregation added.

They noted delays have occurred in the process of formally transferring some individual properties.

The Oblates of Mary Immaculate - who managed St Conleth's Reformatory in Daingean on behalf of the state until 1971 - said it paid its voluntary contribution in full in 2013.

The order said: “The Oblates payment was made in cash, no properties were associated with the contribution"