Laffoy commission controversy: timeline ...

Compiled by Liam Reid

Compiled by Liam Reid

May 11th, 1999: Taoiseach apologises on behalf of the State to victims of institutional child abuse. He announces a major package to address their needs, including a commission to head an independent inquiry.

May 22nd, 1999: Government appoints High Court judge Mary Laffoy to chair child abuse commission. Other members are: Dr Imelda Ryan, a psychiatrist and childcare expert, and Mr Bob Lewis, an expert from the UK.

Sept/Oct 1999: Commission makes two reports to Government. It recommends a therapeutic "confidential committee", to bear witness, and an investigation committee, to hear specific allegations and make findings.


February 5th, 2000: Government publishes legislation on the Laffoy Commission.

May 2000: Laffoy begins to encounter problems with co-operation from victims groups. The issue of legal representation and fees, and the lack of a compensation tribunal are raised. Laffoy refers both matters, with recommendations, to Government.

July 2000: Mr Bob Lewis resigns citing unfair media coverage about an investigation into abuse at a home in which he once worked.

September 2000: Still no resolution to the two issues. Judge Laffoy blames State for delay.

Oct/Nov 2000: Government announces a compensation scheme for victims of residential abuse. Religious orders commit to make a "meaningful contribution".

February 2001: Becomes apparent orders are not willing to accede to State's request for at least a contribution of at least 127 million in cash contribution.

May 2001: Commission publishes first interim report. More than 1,200 people have sought to give evidence. Legal fees issue unresolved. Vaccine trials in some children's homes in the 1960s referred by the Government to Laffoy for investigation.

October 2001: Negotiations with the religious re-open, led by then minister for education, Mr Michael Woods.

November 2001: Laffoy Commission issues second interim report. Total number of cases before it reached 3,000 and it will be at least May 2005 before the commission will be able to conclude its work - three years later than expected. Only five cases have gone before the investigation committee. Laffoy makes recommendations for speeding process.

January 2002: State reaches agreement in principle with religious orders on a €128 million contribution, most in land transfers.

April 2002: Legislation on residential redress board enacted,solving the two issues on legal fees and compensation. But only 15 cases have been heard at the investigation committee.

October 2002: Commission makes a legal determination against a challenge by the Christian Brothers against its ability to publish the names of the dead religious it makes findings against.

November 2002: Laffoy publishes a framework document proposing a major reorganisation of the commission and seeks extra funding.

December 2002: Government announces major review of commission, stating it could cost up to €200 million and take 10 years. Agrees to interim funding requested by Laffoy, but this is not paid.

January 2003: Noel Dempsey begins consultation process.

March 2003: Victims' groups told by Department of "sampling" proposals. These are rejected. Justice Laffoy holds a public hearing into delays by Department of Education in handing over files. Christian Brothers start High Court challenge on issue of dead members names being made public.

April 2003: Review proposals rejected by Cabinet as insufficient, and proposals for a second review.

September 2003: Mr Dempsey announces second review. Judge Laffoy resigns.