Oblates say statement not meant to be insensitive to abuse victims
Intention was to correct misinformation coming from politicians and reported by media
Fr Ray Warren: “The statement does acknowledge the moral claims of the victims of the system”
A religious congregation has said it was not being insensitive to victims when it published a recent statement on “the moral challenge posed to religious about the costs” of compensation.
The purpose of the statement by the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate was to “correct a relentless stream of misinformation coming from some politicians and reported in the media” about the redress scheme, its provincial Fr Ray Warren said.
The statement came after widespread criticism of religious orders recently after a Comptroller and Auditor General report found that the redress scheme and related matters had cost some €1.5 billion and that the orders had fallen short of paying their share.
“Some welcomed this as a statement of the factual background to the commission, the redress board and role of the government and the detailed chronology of how the religious became involved with the government in the process,” Fr Warren said.
However, he said “others were angry at what they perceived as our insensitivity to the harm done to those who experienced as children the reformatory and industrial schools system and at our apparent lack of remorse”.
The Oblates managed St Conleth’s reformatory at Daingean, Co Offaly which closed in 1973. They were one of the 18 religious congregations whose management of residential institutions for children was investigated by the Laffoy/Ryan commission. They were also party to the €128 million indemnity deal in 2002 between the 18 congregations and the State.
Their recent statement asserted that the redress scheme “was the Government’s very own initiative, to meet the Government’s own moral obligations, and the Government would lay down all the provisions that governed it”.
The congregations “were adjuncts to the scheme, and certainly not partners”, while “the Government was certainly not initially looking for the religious to pay a 50-50 share”, it said.
Fr Warren said: “The statement does acknowledge the moral claims of the victims of the system and our moral duty in the light of the Ryan report findings. I am aware how inadequate financial contributions are to make up for the harm suffered by the victims but at the same time they are important.
“In the light of the Ryan report findings, the Oblates – as many of you will know – apologised at that time and subsequently for our shortcomings. Many are asking how the Oblates responded at the time to Ryan and to redress. Details can be found on our archives link.”
On publication of the Ryan report in May 2009, the Oblates said: “We wish to reiterate the shortcomings on our part acknowledged to the commission and the serious consequences for some of the boys in our care. We unreservedly apologise for these.”