Religious congregations yet to fully honour compensation deals

About €250m of €1.5bn has been paid to survivors from agreements in 2002 and 2009

Eighteen religious congregations who ran orphanages, reformatories and industrial schools investigated by the Ryan Commission have yet to fully honour compensation deals reached in 2002 and 2009.

In 2002, they agreed to hand over €128 million, mostly in properties, but €4.21 million (3 per cent) is still outstanding. Negotiations over the handover of some properties continue.

The €128 million was agreed at a time when the department of finance believed that redress compensation would cost the State between €250 million and €500 million.

In October 2003, the Comptroller and Auditor General reported the department of education and science in 2001 believed that the number of claims were “likely to exceed 3,000 and might rise to 4,000”.


By June 2002, when the deal with the congregations was signed, it was believed the number would rise to 5,200, or more. In the end, 15,579 people did so, each receiving on average €62,250, costing €1.5 billion.

Following the Ryan report on May 20th, 2009, all 18 congregations were called in by the then taoiseach Brian Cowen, and asked to increase their contributions on top of that 2002 deal.


Combined, they offered €352.61 million more. So far, just €103 million has been paid over (in cash and property), or just 29 per cent of that offer. Negotiations continue over the transfer of ownership of nine properties.

The congregations investigated included the Sisters of Mercy, who ran 26 industrial schools, while the Christian Brothers, the largest provider of residential institutions, filled eight chapters of the Ryan report.

The remaining 16 congregations include the Presentation Brothers, the Institute of Charity, known as the Rosminians, the Daughters of Charity, Good Shepherd Sisters, the Oblates,the Hospitaller Order of St John of God, Sisters of Charity, De La Salle Brothers, Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of Refuge, Sisters of St Clare, Sisters of St Louis, Presentation Sisters, Dominican Fathers, Daughters of the Heart of Mary, the Brothers of Charity, and the Sisters of Nazareth.

Today, there will be events marking the 20th anniversary of the State apology offered by Bertie Ahern to survivors of institutional abuse and the 10th anniversary of the Ryan report.

A conference entitled, "Facing the Future Together" and organised by the Christine Buckley Centre and friends, will take place at the Edmund Burke Theatre in Dublin's Trinity College from 10am.

From Monday, 10 people will share their personal testimonies at the Liffey Corner of the CHQ building at George’s Dock in Dublin, organised by the survivors’ agency, One in Four.

Correction: The original report said Mr Justice Sean Ryan had recommended that compensation costs should be met equally by the State and by the congregations. This is incorrect.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is a contributor to The Irish Times