Irish Examiner view: Churches’ unchristian approach

Redress negotiations
Irish Examiner view: Churches’ unchristian approach

It seems almost incredible that Children’s Minister Roderic O’Gorman and his officials are still in discussion with Church leaders about the level of contribution they will make.

Is there not an immutable lack of Christianity in the fact that six religious orders have yet to contribute one cent towards a Government redress scheme to provide compensation to those affected by various mother and baby home scandals?

The Mother and Baby Institutions Payment Scheme was approved by the Government nearly 12 months ago after the publication of the final — and damning — report of the Commission of Investigation. As of yet, none of those religious orders, be they Catholic or Church of Ireland, have agreed to contribute to compensating those people so horribly affected by their actions.

It seems almost incredible that Children’s Minister Roderic O’Gorman and his officials are still in discussion with Church leaders and individual religious congregations about the level of contribution they will make. That they are even arguing the toss in this instance seems unchristian.

The compensation involved here is estimated to be in the region of €800m, and it is the Government’s intention to have that implemented in the coming months. But, with no money as yet forthcoming from either Church authorities or religious orders, it seems they are not facing up to their responsibilities in what is a very ugly truth.

Concern for victims

If the Government still seems confident it will successfully conclude negotiations on the matter, the confidential nature of those discussions is a huge concern for victims and their families, displaying apparent callousness on behalf of the Churches and their agents.

With legislation due to be enacted early next year and a compensation scheme set to begin shortly thereafter, time is pressing on and agreement on the levels of culpability and recompense need to be aired quickly and publicly.

Not only do the survivors need reassurance, but so too does a public astounded by the financial fallout from a variety of Church scandals.

This needs to be a very open and very Christian process, and the indicators so far are not positive in that regard.

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