The decision not to extend the Caranua fund for victims of abuse to former residents of mother and baby homes is disappointing.
The basis of the fund’s limitation is, essentially, a political fraud.
Caranua’s €111m budget is based on a compensation fund pledged to the State by Catholic religious orders. It was designed to avoid legal liability for abuse to residents in homes that religious orders ran.
Instead, liability was addressed through the Residential Institutions Redress Scheme. It cost the public over €1.3bn in compensation payments to former residents of named institutions.
In fact, abuse liability was a State responsibility all along, in mainly religious insitutions governments franchised to carry out welfare, education, health and detention services.
The State has tried to put the squeeze on the same religious bodies to increase their pledges. There are a couple of reasons why this will not happen, one of which is outlined above.
A second very good reason is that the fund has a sectarian basis.
Caranua has awarded compensation to abused former residents of Protestant-ethos institutions, which paid nothing into the compensation fund. By tying the Caranua fund budget to monies paid in by Roman Catholic institutions, the State destroyed whatever slim chance it had of extracting more from that source.
Apart from briefly and unsuccessfully approaching the Smyly’s organisation in 2005, the State has not bothered with other Protestant institutions. Unsurprisingly, Protestant churches are keeping their heads down on the subject.
The State did a sectarian deal with the Roman Catholic Church in 2002 and is now paying the price, or rather has decided not to pay it any more. Those who were abused will, it seems, again be abandoned.
Faculty Head Journalism & MediaGriffith College, Dublin