Religious orders gave just 13% to cost of abuse redress scheme

Religious orders have contributed just 13% of the amount it has cost to operate the child abuse inquiry and redress scheme and to support survivors of residential abuse, according to a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General.

The C&AG report also found that 14 properties worth around €20m in total that were due to be transferred by congregations under the 2002 Indemnity Agreement had not yet been passed on, and that of the €225.6m that had been offered by the religious orders since the publication of the Ryan report in 2009, just €83.5m had been paid over.

The chairman of the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee, Sean Fleming, described the situation as “inexcusable”.

“Following the publication of the Ryan report in 2009, the congregations offered additional cash and property valued at €353m,” he said.

“This combined offer was revised to €226m in September 2015. It is astonishing and inexcusable that six years after the publication of the Ryan report, only €85m of the €226m offer has been received by the State.”

Education Minister Richard Bruton told the Seanad that the 50/50 target between the State and the congregations for meeting the costs of abuse had not been signed up to by the congregations: “Unfortunately, after today’s report, we have to ask questions as to why organisations with stated missions to serve the public and uphold moral codes are apparently placing so little importance on those values.”

However, the Christian Brothers said it had almost delivered all €34m it had pledged following the Ryan report. Some €10m had already been paid, and of the remainder, €4m paid out for counselling and therapeutic services for survivors, €10m arising from property disposals and the remaining €10m to be paid this year.

Br Edmund Garvey, province leader, said those measures, along with prior transfers, would bring total contributions by the order to redress, welfare and education to over €600m.

“Despite a dramatic reduction in asset values throughout the recession, the congregation is on course to honour in full the voluntary pledges it made to redress and to education and welfare in 2009,” he said.

The C&AG found the inquiry cost an estimated €82m, versus an initial estimate of €2.5m, and that the projected cost for the redress scheme was €250m, but it ended up costing an estimated €1.25bn.

By the end of 2015, awards totalling €970m had been made to 15,579 claimants. The highest award was €300,000 and the average payout was €62,250. Legal cost payments of €192.9m included seven firms getting between €5m and €19m each.

Under a 50/50 sharing of the cost of redress the religious congregations would have needed to contribute €760m. However, the report shows to date the congregations have offered the equivalent of 23% of the overall cost and the amount actually realised amounts to just 13% of the cost.

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