Lands owned by the Catholic Church should be given to the Irish people as a “token of its remorse” to those sexually abused in schools, former Labour leader Ruairi Quinn has said.
Mr Quinn, an education minister in the previous government, said the Church should pay its fair share of the €1.6bn of the cost of redress payments.
However, they should hand over the keys in order to share the burden of the cost of redress payments to the victims of abuse, he said.
“The Christian Brothers control many of the schools in their jurisdiction and, usually, they are only answerable to themselves or to someone who is based in Rome, who in turn is answerable to the Pope.”
Mr Quinn was critical of Pope Francis, who he accused of failing of delivering on behalf of the Church.
“I see no sense of movement or engagement or responsibility coming from Pope Francis. This is a historical scandal to which the State and the Church were involved,” he said.
Mr Quinn said the taxpayer has compensated abuse victims with €1.6bn.
“It has cost you, me, and everybody else €1.6bn, which could have and should have been spent in so many different ways,” said Mr Quinn.
“It is a far cry from the 50:50 deal that many people wanted, including what the Department of Finance wanted, and it is a far cry from what the religious themselves promised.”
Mr Quinn said Church-run schools must hand over the ownership of schools to the State as a gesture of sympathy to those abused.
“I don’t want to see them bankrupted, I don’t want to cause them hardship,” he said.
“They could solve this honourably and with dignity by handing over the keys of those properties used for educational purposes to the Irish people as a public token of their remorse and their sympathy with those Irish people involved from this shameful period of our history.”
During his term of office, Mr Quinn was repeatedly frustrated by the Church over its failure to meet its obligations under an agreement with the State.
“They won’t accept the principle of 50/50,” he said in 2013. “They’ve paid out some money, they’ve come back with a certain amount. They’re shy about €200m and if I had that my problems would be solved.”
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