Cost of State redress for abused up to nearly €1.5bn

 

THE COST of the State’s redress scheme for survivors of institutional child abuse is set to rise by more than €100 million following a surge in applications for compensation last year.

Unpublished estimates compiled by senior Department of Education officials put the final bill at €1.47 billion, up from the €1.36 billion that had been quoted.

However, the State has received just €126 million to date from religious congregations despite Government attempts to split the redress costs on a 50-50 basis.

The Residential Institutions Redress Board was set up a decade ago to compensate former residents of industrial and reformatory schools, orphanages and children’s homes who suffered abuse.

Most of these were run by religious orders and had close links with the State.

Under a controversial 2002 indemnity agreement, the 18 religious orders who ran these institutions pledged to contribute €128 million in cash, property and counselling services towards redress costs for abuse survivors.

The report of the the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse – also known as the Ryan report – investigated the abuse of children in these institutions and recommended that religious orders pay half of the redress costs, or €680 million. This was due to the central role religious orders played in the maintenance of these institutions.

However, this figure is now likely to increase by more than €50 million under the revised cost of the redress scheme.

About 3,000 new applications for compensation arrived in the two months prior to a deadline of last September. This, combined with third-party legal bills and expenses, have led to the overall upwards revision.

After the Ryan report’s 2009 recommendations, the congregations pledged to contribute more cash and property, worth almost €350 million. However, this still leaves a shortfall of more than €200 million between pledged contributions and the congregations’ share over the overall redress bill.

Latest figures show money or property received by the State to date amounts to €126 million.

Briefing material prepared by the department states that legal issues have slowed the transfer of many properties to the State.

In addition, only a quarter of the new property offers made by religious congregations in a revised offer were of immediate interest or benefit to the State.

In order to address the shortfall, Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn is seeking to negotiate the transfer of school infrastructure owned by 18 religious orders to the State.

These talks are ongoing. However, religious congregations have moved many schools into trusts, making it difficult to transfer them into State ownership.

In 2008, the Edmund Rice Trust assumed ownership of Christian Brothers and Presentation schools, while the previous year five female religious congregations, including the Sisters of Mercy and Daughters of Charity, transferred more than 100 secondary schools to Catholic Education – An Irish Schools Trust.