Bishop’s representative has met with survivors over donations

SURVIVORS of institutional abuse have met with a representative of the Bishop of Cork and Ross in relation to donations made to Right of Place.

The group, former and current members of the Cork-based charity met with a representative of Bishop John Buckley in recent weeks expressing concern over monies donated and how it was used.

In 2002, Irish bishops decided to contribute to a “three year” plan initiated by Noel Barry, founder of Right of Place.

A letter from the child protection office of the Irish Bishops Conference states that seven of eight bishops would be in a position to contribute funds.

According to the letter they were Bishop John Buckley of Cork and Ross, Bishop John Magee of Cloyne, Bishop William Murphy of Kerry, Bishop Eamonn Walsh of Ferns, Bishop Donal Murray of Limerick, Bishop James McLoughlin of Galway and Bishop Laurence Forristal of Ossory. The bishops agreed to give €3,000 or €4,000 each year for a three year period.

This agreement came at a time when Right of Place was receiving large Government grants. In that year alone it secured €171,925 from the then Southern Health Board and almost €150,000 from the Department of Education.

Correspondence also suggests funding went past the initial three year plan as in 2006, Mr Barry asked religious orders and the bishops for continued support “if at all possible over the next two years”.

Another letter in 2000, shows Bishop Buckley of Cork and Ross had made donations to Right of Place two years before the formal meeting with the Irish Bishop’s conference.

In that year, he forwarded a cheque for €4,000 to Mr Barry.

Tom Hayes of survivor group Alliance said his group has never received any money from the religious orders. He said Right of Place had received “huge amounts”.

Mr Hayes said his committee was totally accountable to members and operated as a victim support group, but that there seemed to be no accountability within Right of Place.

“It is an absolute disgrace and most regrettable that the Government have not looked into this,” he said.

Mr Hayes said he did not agree with the huge amount being given to one group as opposed to another.

“We never received any money from bishops or religious orders.

“It is extraordinary that they could support one group and not others.”

Patrick Walsh, of another victim group SOCA, said it had never received money from the religious.

“I would consider it a conflict of interest to be taking money off religious orders when we are representing victims of abuse,” he said.

A spokesman for the Bishop of Cork and Ross said any money donated would have been given in good faith.

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