Quinn repeats appeal over abuse compensation

 

MINISTER FOR Education Ruairí Quinn has repeated his appeal to religious orders to agree to a 50- 50 contribution with the State in compensating victims of institutional abuse.

He said the State had distributed an estimated €1.5 billion to victims, adding that a deal done by the previous Fianna Fáil-led government was “outrageous”.

Mr Quinn said he had no desire to bankrupt the orders and he saluted the contribution they had made to Irish society. “That said, they are way shy of the 50-50 contribution,” he added.

Mr Quinn was speaking during the resumed debate on the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Bill, establishing a fund for victims proposed in the aftermath of the Ryan report.

Martin Ferris (SF, Kerry North-Limerick West) said he noted the Minister’s disappointment with the offer made to date by the religious orders and the fact that he continued to pursue a 50-50 division with the management bodies involved.

“It is now incumbent on the Minister to ensure the religious orders and congregations honour their past commitments and pay their financial obligations in full,” he said.

“Their failure to do so to date has resulted in further hurt and anxiety for people who have already experienced too much suffering.”

Mr Ferris referred to the case of his first cousin Danny Ferris, who was put into St Joseph’s orphanage in Tralee, Co Kerry, when he was 14½ years. His father was an alcoholic and his mother was dead.

“I have first-hand experience of visiting him in those institutions and at one stage seeing how his leg was broken but he did not even get hospital treatment,” Mr Ferris said. “When he was 16 years of age my mother took him out of the institution and he lived with us for the remainder of his teenage years and early life.”

Mr Ferris said his cousin, who died four years ago, had never sought compensation or went to any board because of the shame associated with what had happened to him. “I am told the abuser lives in Dublin,” he added. “I do not know the person’s name or anything about him and thank God for that.”

Dan Neville (FG, Limerick) said the fund should target resources at services to support former residents’ needs in areas such as counselling, psychological support, mental health and educational and housing services.

Risk factors for abuse survivors included alcohol abuse, depression, lack of education, difficulty obtaining employment and social isolation.

Clare Daly (Socialist Party, Dublin North) said victims living outside of Ireland felt they were living away, lost, lonely, in poor health and left out of the equation.

Ms Daly read into the Dáil record the story of a survivor of 16 years of “brutal abuse” in Tullamore, Co Offaly. The abuse was “starvation, broken bones and we were forced out to steal for our mother”, she added.

Catherine Murphy (Independent, Kildare North) said that being in an institution was not regarded as normal, resulting in the children feeling they had less value as people.

She recalled living near the Artane institution in Dublin and observing the boys walking two-by-two in their grey jerseys.

“People crossed to the other side of the street when they saw these boys,” Ms Murphy added. “They did not talk to people and people did not talk to them.”