Woods defends abuse redress deal

 

Former minister for education Dr Michael Woods has defended his role in the negotiation of a compensation deal with the Catholic Church on institutional abuse.

Dr Woods said the agreement, which saw religious congregations contribute €128 million towards the cost of the compensation scheme for victims, was “the best deal that could have been done at the time”.

“The Government wanted to put the situation right. Those people had been abused by the State under State control…Some of these institutions were fully run by the State,” he told RTÉ Radio this morning.

Although the 2002 agreement capped the church’s liability for institutional child abuse at less than a tenth of its likely €1.3 billion total, Dr Woods said that subsequent examinations of the deal showed “clearly it was the right thing”.

The Dublin North-East TD last night became the latest Fianna Fáil deputy to announce he will not be standing in the forthcoming general election.

Speaking to a party meeting in Kilbarrack in his Dublin North-East constituency last night, Dr Woods, who celebrated his 75th birthday last month, said he had spent 46 years full-time in the public service.

“It has been an honour for me to serve my constituents and my country over this time,” said Dr Woods, who currently chairs the Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs.

He pointed out that he had served in government with five taoisigh. “I served five times as Minister for Social Welfare, three times in Health, twice in Marine and Natural Resources, once in Agriculture and Food and once in Education and Science.”

He was first elected to the Dáil in 1977 and prior to that worked as a Principal Officer in the Agricultural Research Institute.

Paying tribute to Dr Woods, Taoiseach Brian Cowen said: “His decision not to contest the next election brings to a conclusion a remarkable career in politics full to the brim of achievement and delivery for the Irish people.”

He added: “Michael is the last link in our parliamentary party with the governments led by Jack Lynch.”
Dr Woods will receive a pension as a former TD and minister amounting to an estimated €106,000 per annum, which is taxable, plus a non-taxable lump sum of approximately €160,000.

DEPARTING TDs NOT STANDING

As of yesterday, 26 TDs had announced their intention not to contest the general election – 13 from Fianna Fáil, eight Fine Gael, three Labour, one Sinn Féin and one Independent.

FIANNA FÁIL: Seán Ardagh, Bertie Ahern (former taoiseach), Dermot Ahern (Minister for Justice), Martin Cullen (former minister for arts, sport and tourism, who resigned last March), Noel Dempsey (Minister for Transport), Tony Killeen (Minister for Defence), Michael Finneran (Minister of State for Housing), Beverly Flynn, Tom Kitt, Dr James McDaid (resigned last November), M.J. Nolan, Dr Rory O’Hanlon, Dr Michael Woods.

FINE GAEL: Ulick Burke, Paul Connaughton, Seymour Crawford, Olwyn Enright, George Lee (resigned last February), Padraic McCormack, Jim O’Keeffe, P.J. Sheehan.

LABOUR: Michael D. Higgins, Liz McManus, Mary Upton.

SINN FÉIN: Arthur Morgan.

INDEPENDENT: Jackie Healy-Rae.