Ryan report saves €15m in legal bills

THE publication of the Ryan report on institutional child abuse has led to savings of €15.4 million on legal bills last year.

The Commission on Child Abuse chaired by Mr Justice Seán Ryan published its landmark report in May 2009 but Department of Education accounts show that its total spend last year came to just €3.5m out of an allocation of almost €19m.

The variation was explained by the fact that the commission was unable to finalise as many legal bills of third parties because of the resources diverted to finalising and releasing the report, as well as dealing with its aftermath.

The department saved a further €55m on the planned €150m spend of the Residential Institutions Redress Board, mostly from a fall in the average award paid out and fewer awards being processed as not all the necessary documentation was provided.

Elsewhere, a €10m saving was achieved by a change in policy that allowed for the purchase of prefabs for schools where they were more likely to be rented in the past. A further €14.4m less than the €192m budget for school transport.

Almost €10m saved on career development arose from the postponement of some in-service teacher training, restricted funding for substitute teachers, and amalgamation of some professional support services for teachers.

However, the department spent €143.5m more than planned on pensions due to the retirement of almost 1,500 teachers and staff of Vocational Education Committees and institutes of technology above the numbers expected. The extra pension costs are likely to have been partially offset, however, by reduced payroll costs for replacement staff more likely to be at the lower end of the salary scale.

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