€12.5m of child abuse commission’s €12.9m budget is for legal fees

THE Department of Education has set aside almost €12.5 million to meet legal costs associated with the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse this year.

Although the Ryan Commission issued its final report in May 2009, it is still working on payment of legal bills.

The department had set aside €12.5m for the commission last year to this end, but the anticipated level of costs from solicitors and barristers was not paid out.

Only €1.8m was spent on non-pay items by the commission last year and third-party legal costs totalling €21.5m had been paid up to the end of 2010.

However, that left an estimated €30m-€40m still to be paid, based on legal bills already being processed and those which had yet to be received earlier this year.

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn told the Oireachtas Select Sub-Committee on Education yesterday that the commission’s voted budget for 2011 of €12.9m is largely accounted for by the anticipated payment of legal bills. Around €500,000 is being set aside for pay costs associated with three personnel at the commission.

The Residential Institutions Redress Board has been allocated €45m this year, €4m more than it spent in awards and other payments in 2010. By the end of last year, the board had processed almost 14,400 applications from victims of abuse in residential care and made just under 13,500 awards, but the total cost of the redress scheme is still estimated to eventually top €1.1 billion.

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