Abuse claims may now reach €800m


The number of people applying to the State's compensation scheme for institutional child abuse and neglect is expected to exceed 9,000, after a near doubling in recent months in the rate in which people are applying to the scheme, writes Liam Reid.

According to figures posted on its website late last week, the Residential Institutions Redress Board is now receiving applications at a rate of 400 a month, nearly twice the rate it had been experiencing.

It has already granted €282 million in awards, with just 3,665 cases completed.

According to the board as of last week, it had received 7,046 applications, but the rate at which it was receiving them had "increased notably" with the board having received 400 for the month of June.

The scheme was established in late 2002 to provide compensation to former residents of children's homes, industrial schools and orphanages, mostly run by Catholic religious congregations.

In a controversial deal approved by the Government, the religious orders made a contribution of €127 million at the time, based on a then estimate by the Department of Education that the cost of the scheme would be between €250 million and €500 million.

Colm O'Gorman of victims support group One in Four said yesterday that if the rate continued to December, the final number of applicants will be "9,000 plus", which brings the potential compensation cost close to €1 billion.

This is close to an estimate in a report two years ago by the Comptroller and Auditor General, which was questioned at the time by the Department of Education.

According to the latest figures, the Residential Institutions Redress Board has made 3,665 awards to date, averaging €77,100 each or €282 million.

If the current compensation rates continue, the potential cost is likely to be in the region of €800 million.