Church yet to pay out promised millions to abuse survivors

Church yet to pay out promised millions to abuse survivors

The Catholic Church has handed over little more than half of the compensation money it promised to give victims of repeated physical and sexual abuse, leaving survivors hundreds of millions of euro out of pocket.

The Department of Education confirmed the situation in a detailed document given to the Oireachtas public accounts committee (PAC) in recent weeks and which is due to be published among a tranche of summer correspondence today.

Under the 2002 indemnity agreement between the government and the Church and a deal in response to the 2009 Ryan report, advocating voluntary contributions, Church authorities were meant to provide hundreds of millions of euro to victims of sustained abuse.

A total of €480.6m worth of offers were made under both schemes — €128m under the 2002 agreement and €352.6m under the 2009 deal.

The funds were meant to be provided through cash payments, the transfer of land controlled by the Church, and hundreds of schools also under the oversight of the institutions.

However, of this €480.6m figure, just €253.65m — including €4.21m from the 2002 agreement and €249.44m from the 2009 deal — has been transferred to the State.

Despite repeated apologies for what happened and guarantees the money would be made available, the correspondence from Department of Education secretary general Sean Ó Fóghlú shows less than half of the funds have been provided.

According to the correspondence sent to the PAC in recent weeks, by June this year the 2002 agreement — which related to 18 Catholic congregations — had also provided 55 of the 60 properties it was due to transfer under the agreement.

However, a number of the five properties yet to be transferred are currently occupied, while others have lost value since the deal was struck.

Similarly, the 2009 deal — which related to the same 18 Church congregations — was meant to provide €107m in cash within five years of the deal, €4m for counselling, €2m for a rent waiver, and €235m in proposed property transfers.

To date only 15 of the 18 congregations involved have offered to hand over either money or properties as part of the voluntary 2009 deal, leading to a drastic reduction in the amount of promised funds that have in fact been provided.

The Catholic Church’s repeated failure to hand over money and property promised under the physical and sexual abuse compensation agreements will be raised by the PAC this morning during a meeting focusing on the cross-party group’s summer correspondence.

Among the other 2,000 pages of documents sent to the committee since the Dáil took its summer break at the start of July are issues surrounding institutes of technologies that are financially in the red and correspondence on the Cooke report commission.

The Department of Health explanations for using private investigators to examine the level of work by some consultants, runaway HSE agency costs, and Department of Justice reasoning for CCTV usage are also due to be discussed during this morning’s meeting.

This story first appeared in the Irish Examiner.

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