Religious do not plan to revisit redress deal


COMPENSATION BILL:NONE OF the 18 religious congregations that were party to the redress agreement with the Government seven years ago has any plans to look again at its terms, the Conference of Religious in Ireland (Cori) said last night.

The 18 congregations involved were those which managed residential institutions where children were physically, emotionally and sexually abused, as well as neglected, according to the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse report, published on Wednesday.

In a statement to The Irish Times, following a query on the matter, Cori said: “In 2002 the Conference of Religious in Ireland facilitated 18 of its members in entering into an agreement with the Government on a Redress Scheme for victims of institutional abuse. This agreement included an indemnity clause that lapsed after three years.

“An agreement was made between the congregations concerned and the Government that a contribution of € 128 million (cash and property) be made to the Redress Scheme, which was established by Government. As far as we are aware none of the congregations concerned plan to revisit the terms of the agreement made in good faith.”

It continued: “Some have questioned whether the religious have honoured their commitment to the agreement. We can confirm that the vast majority of these transactions have been completed. However some legal work remains outstanding on some of the property transfers.”

During an appearance before the Dáil Public Accounts Committee in April 2008, Department of Education secretary general Brigid McManus said the total compensation bill for the Residential Institutions Redress Board was expected to reach € 1.1 billion.

Under the terms of the deal, concluded in 2002 on behalf of the State by former minister for education Dr Michael Woods with the 18 religious congregations, they agreed to pay € 128 million in cash and property as their contribution to a redress scheme for survivors of the residential institutions in return for an indemnity against future claims.

Ms McManus said the € 128 million figure included almost €62 million in cash and funding for counselling, and € 66 million from the transfer of 64 properties.

At the time of the Dáil committee hearing, € 36 million worth of properties remained to be transferred to the State under the terms of the deal.

It emerged, after the deal had been concluded in 2002, that it had been agreed to by Dr Woods and the then department secretary general John Dennehy, despite opposition from the Department of Finance and without advice from the Attorney General.

This prompted then former attorney general, the late Colm Condon, to comment at the time: “The Attorney General protects the Constitution. You can’t properly make an agreement of that kind without the consent of the Attorney General.”