Church may increase compensation for abuse victimsAdded on October 7, 2009
Church may increase compensation for abuse victims
Senior Catholic clerics are to consider increasing compensation for survivors of abuse in Church-run institutions, it emerged today.
Cardinal Sean Brady revealed a committee would be set up to look at offering further redress to victims who suffered at the hands of nuns and priests in industrial schools and orphanages.
The head of the Church in Ireland spoke out after four campaigners addressed the Bishops' Conference in Maynooth over the Ryan Report, which revealed widespread physical and sexual abuse.
They also appealed to the Church to make a financial contribution to a redress scheme for victims - currently being funded by the religious congregations criticised in the report.
Cardinal Brady said the meeting survivors was a first step.
"There will be other steps," said Cardinal Brady. "I think something very important has taken place. We will be setting up a committee as they asked to take forward this discussion."
Asked if he regretted not having the meeting sooner, Cardinal Brady replied: "Yes I do of course, but I thank God that it has happened."
Former Fianna Fáil mayor Michael O'Brien, who spent eight years in St Joseph's School in Ferryhouse, Clonmel, said discussions with church hierarchy was a gigantic step forward.
"This was a chance for us to meet all the bishops at one time to tell them what we want from them so as we can get closure," said Mr O'Brien, of Right to Peace. "We need closure. And unless we get closure this will go on forever."
The four men requested to see the bishops after the clergy announced in June that they wanted to listen to victims of abuse.
Mr Kelly, of Survivors Of Child Abuse, maintained the moral responsibility for the behaviour of religious orders rested with the Church.
"Since the publication of the Ryan Report we have seen senior members of the hierarchy demand that the Cori congregations make additional contributions to the redress sums," said Mr Kelly.
"We have also noted the thundering silence whenever the matter of a contribution from the hierarchy itself is made.
"To date the Church has paid absolutely nothing towards redressing the victims of sexual and other abuses in the Catholic run institutions."
Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin described the meeting as the most significant he had ever attended in Maynooth.
"It's been extraordinary," said the Archbishop. "In many ways it's so sad that those things weren't heard and listened to on so many occasions before.
"We're beginning a new form of dialogue and I hope that this is just the beginning and we set up the structures in which dialogue between various groups who suffered through abuse by church persons."
However, Christine Buckley, who first lifted the lid on institutional abuse 25 years ago, said she was appalled the women who started the campaign for justice were kept out of the loop.
The former resident in Goldenbridge Sisters of Mercy convent in Dublin was later granted a meeting with Archbishop Martin.
"We have been at the core of this for almost 25 years to try and seek justice for our fellow survivors," said Ms Buckley, who now supports survivors of institutional abuse through The Aislinn Centre.
"Our philosophy has always being to seek justice through education, through counselling and through tracing service which has played a big part in the healing process. Money was never the issue with us."
A spokesman for the Bishops said the meeting had been requested by the men.
"The survivors asked for this meeting," he said. "It was the first, but it won't be the last meeting with survivors."