Religious order is ignoring legal requests to transfer land

A religious order that is supposed to hand over a lucrative Dublin property as part of the decade-old clerical abuse compensation deal has been ignoring since last summer State legal letters over repeated delays.

The National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dun Laoghaire has yet to be transferred.

In an update to TDs, the HSE said it has received “no response” to its demands for action.

Under the 2002 indemnity agreement between government and the Church, and a similar post-2009 Ryan Report voluntary contributions deal, Church authorities were meant to provide hundreds of millions of euro to victims of sustained abuse.

€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, as reported by the Irish Examiner last October, of the €480.6m, just €253.65m — including €4.21m from the 2002 agreement and €249.44m from the 2009 deal — has been transferred to the State.

In an update letter to the Dáil’s public accounts committee in recent days, the office of the HSE’s national director for health business service wrote that 29 of the 31 properties offered to the HSE as part of the 2002 deal have now been transferred.

However, of the six properties offered as part of the 2009 deal, two in Dublin — Blaithin, on the Grace Park Road, in Drumcondra, and the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dun Laoghaire — have yet to be transferred.

While the office of the national director of the HSE for health business services said it is working to resolve the National Rehabilitation Hospital issue, it told the PAC its legal letters over the Drumcondra site have been repeatedly ignored.

“For long periods of time, there has been no response to our solicitors’ correspondence from the congregation’s solicitors.

“On June 14 this year, our solicitors were advised by the congregation’s solicitors that the contract and title documents would issue shortly. These documents are still awaited.

“At our request, our solicitors again contacted the congregation’s solicitors in late November 2018, and again this week [the final week of January]. A response is still awaited,” the letter to the PAC read.

The latest apparent foot-dragging on the compensation packages for decades of clerical sexual, physical, and psychological abuse, which was covered up by both the Church and sections of the State, emerged after a similar concern was highlighted at a PAC meeting in October.

In correspondence with the PAC at the time, Department of Education secretary general, Sean O’Foghlu, said that despite previous assurances, there were ongoing delays separate to the HSE matter.

When the delay emerged last autumn, it was described at the time as a “joke” by PAC chair and Fianna Fáil TD, Sean Fleming, who warned that abusers are getting “off the hook completely”, while unaligned Independent TD, Catherine Connolly, said the situation “typifies the process”.

“None of these schemes have been honoured. I’m not going to have a situation where commitments are given and none of them are honoured,” Mr Fleming said at the time.

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