Why abuse compensation deal should be torn up

REALITY bites. At last, the people of Ireland realise they were conned . Quite rightly, they want to renegotiate the deal done with the religious orders.

The moral argument for renegotiation is falling on the deaf ears of the custodians of decency, but there are several strong grounds on which to challenge the legalities of that deal.

The comptroller and auditor general has both a statutory and a constitutional obligation to enquire into how the deal was negotiated and to quantify the value (or waste) of money accruing to the exchequer as a result. Accuracy to the nearest million would be quite adequate to expedite a thorough and speedy investigation.

The basis of any contract is that it must be open, transparent, fair and reasonable. This deal was negotiated in secret collusion. It amounted to recklessness, which is grounds enough on which to mount any legal challenge. It introduced the doubtful premise of limited liability for crimes already committed by one party, but with unlimited liability for the other party. The deal conferred a disproportionate benefit to one side. It gave a guarantee in direct contravention of the will of rational people. Another principle of good contract law is that both parties should be independent of one another. There are suspicions that one of the prime negotiators was totally committed to the other side.

Underlying all constitutional law and order is the principle that if you have done the crime, you must do the time.

During all the long years when the crimes were being committed, one side of authority had the other side in a vicious headlock, spiritually speaking. Liability for punitive damages cannot be reduced subsequent to a crime. The enormity of the documented crimes against humanity cancels out all factors for mitigation of damages.

The manner in which one of the parties to the deal subsequently covertly transferred ownership of some of its collateral properties to third parties and compromised the state’s agreed title to other properties shows it did not keep faith with the contract and thus rendered it null and void. The fact that they have not realised a fraction of the money promised further invalidates a flawed contract. People would be forced to accept an irrationally one-sided deal if it was done by a tyrannical despot. We do not live under a dictatorship or a theocracy.

Ireland must grow up and assert that it is a democracy.

If a deal looks wrong, then it is wrong. This deal was fundamentally unsound even before it was signed. Tear it up. Don’t renegotiate.

Bring a test case to the High Court, if you must. Let the law of the land apply to everybody. I am ashamed that my church seems more concerned with material wealth than spiritual wellbeing. Sometimes, I wonder if the more sanctimonious craw-thumpers really understand or truly believe in what they preach. It compounds gross injustice when an institution which abetted criminal activity has the brazenness to plea-bargain for qualified immunity.

Michael Mernagh



Co Cork

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