Victims seek timeframe for audit of assets


GROUPS REPRESENTING survivors of abuse in industrial schools have warned the Government it must not allow the verification of the financial standing of religious congregations to become a lengthy affair.

The verification concerns those congregations which promised further redress to victims following the publication of the Ryan report in May.

Following a meeting of the groups in Dublin yesterday, John Kelly of Irish Survivors of Child Abuse said the Government was prepared for a “long drawn-out process” with the religious to establish their assets and to determine what could or could not be released to the victims.

But he warned victims would not stand for that. “We are saying to the Government they need to be more robust and they need to be more urgent about what needs to be done,” he said.

The Government appointed a three-person panel at the end of last month to assess the statements of resources submitted by religious congregations following publication of the Commission of Inquiry into Child Abuse.

The panel, chaired by Frank Daly, former chairman of the Revenue Commissioners, has no specific deadline.

Michael O’Brien of Right to Peace and a former mayor of Clonmel, who spoke movingly about the abuse he suffered at Ferryhouse industrial school near the town, said it was of “serious concern” that the panel had no deadline by which they would have to report.

“This should take a matter of weeks rather than months. It’s a matter of serious concern that they have no timeframe because we have endured 10 years of waiting and suffering for all this to come to an end.

“We want to see this coming to an end soon so we may get closure, which is very important to us all,” Mr O’Brien said.

“I call on the Taoiseach to put a timeframe on it now.”

Mr Kelly said that he was anxious to ensure the panel had real teeth and was able to go after offshore assets held by the religious orders.

A Government spokesman said later that the three-person panel would complete its work “as soon as practicable”.

Work on the issue was continuing apace.

With Mr Daly on the panel are Catherine Treacy, chief executive of the Property Registration Authority, and John Donnelly, former chairman of Deloitte and Touche.

Meanwhile, the survivors’ groups also said any future financial contributions that may be forthcoming from the 18 religious orders who were party to the 2002 redress agreement with the State should first and foremost be used to give proper direct redress to victims and not go into central exchequer funds.

Only after that, they said, should any sort of trust fund be established with whatever surplus funds may be available to address other needs.