Abuse compo paltry, say groups

SURVIVORS of institutional abuse last night attacked the Government and religious groups for setting out ‘paltry’ compensation levels for those who suffered in care throughout their childhood and teenage years.

Colm O'Gorman's €300,000 settlement with the Diocese of Ferns shows the two tier system which exists between diocesan and institutional abuse settlements, said co-ordinator of the Aislinn Centre for victims of institutional abuse, Christine Buckley.

"This is not a character assassination of Colm O'Gorman. Justice has been done for him. He said he had to wait eight years for justice. We've been waiting over 50 years. He received €300,000 for the abuse he suffered over two-and -a-half years. We don't know how often this abuse occurred.

"The most survivors of institutional abuse can get is €300,000 with an extra 20% added on in exceptional cases. There is huge disparity. We've a man here who was raped every single day from the day after his first holy communion to when he was 16 bar Christmas day because the three brothers who took it in turn to rape him were just too drunk.

"He suffered every day for nine years and the maximum he can get is €300,000.

"That doesn't even take into account the physical, emotional abuse, the retardation, the psychological impact, his drug abuse and prison time which is all linked into the abuse."

Colm O'Gorman, who was abused by Fr Sean Fortune, settled his case in the High Court on Wednesday.

Victims of institutional abuse have been highlighting their cases since the early 1990s and nothing had happened, said Christine Buckley. Cases which went to the DPP were also thrown out because of the passage of time, she said.

"We are being treated like third class citizens. The money really doesn't matter when it comes down to it.

"But fairness needs to prevail. Diocesan abuse is being treated so differently to what we have to endure.

"We were treated differently all those years in those hell holes and nothing has changed," she said.

Mr O'Gorman spoke yesterday on local radio in Wexford about the fall-out from his case. While the vast majority of calls to South East Radio were supportive, some messages during an interview with him were not complimentary.

Mr O'Gorman said the allegation he should have known better when he "got into bed" with Fr Sean Fortune had already been made by opposing lawyers, who later abandoned it and acknowledged their negligence.

"People who are beginning to get into themselves in a tizzy about me kicking the hell out of the Church or attacking God should take on board the words of Bishop Eamonn Walsh.

"He admitted negligence in the case and has acknowledged the abuse, the trauma, distress and hurt it caused to me personally," said Mr O'Gorman.

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