A senior aide to Ireland’s top Catholic churchman today insisted that religious orders must pay more compensation to the victims of abuse in their institutions.
A public inquiry detailing decades of sickening abuse of 2,500 children in orphanages and reform schools has sparked angry calls for a review of a 2002 indemnity deal agreed with the Government.
The Ryan report catalogued a litany of sexual, physical and emotional torture by 800 priests and nuns who were not named.
Opposition political leaders have called for a renegotiation of the compensation deal which meant the Catholic religious orders were liable for only 10% of the estimated €1.2 bn final compensation bill.
Fr Timothy Bartlett, who is Cardinal Sean Brady’s personal assistant, said today: “I believe personally there is no question but that the agreement must be looked at again.”
The influential cleric added: “In my personal view, they need to pay more.”
Thousands of members of the public have signed a ’book of solidarity’ for victims of the abuse in Dublin’s Mansion House.
Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, who was in office when the indemnity deal was agreed on the eve of a general election in 2002, today insisted action needed to be taken on the issue at that point or a resolution could have been delayed further.
“If I did not take the actions that I took, if I didn’t follow it through, none of this would have come to light other than a few television programmes and a few articles written,” he said.
“I took it on, I put the legislative base in place and that’s the real issue - that we’ve dealt with it, we’ve brought it to the fore.”
He told Newstalk Radio: “We haven’t given compensation, we’ve given redress.
“That’s the issue that we should be focusing on.”
Mr Ahern also said he agreed at perpetrators being named and shamed.
The Catholic Bishop of Down and Connor today apologised to all victims of the “evil” abuse.
Dr Noel Treanor told a congregation in Carryduff, Co Down: “I state my sorrow, shame and visceral pain in the face of these and all abuses inflicted on children and vulnerable adults, whenever they took place, wherever they are perpetrated.
“I apologise on behalf of the church to all who are victims of abuse on the part of those who professed to care for them, or minister to them, in the name of Christ.
“I apologise, too, for the failure of those in positions of leadership in the Church to deal with the abusers.
“As we grasp the extent and dimensions of this evil that has been at work within the Church, we have to recognise that as a Church in particular, and as society, and as individuals, we stand in need of chastening our moral and personal radar.”