22 July, 2011 - Opening remarks by Ruairi Quinn, TD, Minister for Education and Skills - Meeting with religious congregations
Opening remarks by Ruairi Quinn, TD, Minister for Education and Skills - Meeting with religious congregations
At the outset I want to thank you all for responding to my invitation to attend today's meeting. I am pleased that so many congregations are represented here. I understand that due to the timing of the meeting, the Rosminians, the Daughters of the Heart of Mary and the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity could not be represented here today. Regrettably, the Sisters of Mercy opted not to attend, though I understand that they are willing to meet individually. Nevertheless I look forward to constructive engagement with you today and in the future.
The primary purpose of today's meeting is to discuss with you the question of how the congregations and other management bodies move towards meeting the target of achieving a 50:50 share of the cost of the response to residential institutional abuse. I will also outline briefly the Government's position in relation to the ongoing support for survivors of abuse and the offers of cash and property that congregations have already made.
Let me repeat here what I have said previously in terms of my own background and upbringing. I am the product of the religious teaching orders having been educated by the Holy Ghost Fathers in St Michael’s School and Blackrock College. I am eternally grateful for the education I received from the priests in those schools. Similarly I acknowledge the role that religious congregations generally have played in the development of Irish life and society and also their missionary role abroad. There is much that your congregations can be proud of and I readily acknowledge that.
I have written separately to each of you to outline, in general terms, the Government's response to these issues and, where appropriate, to address specific issues relating to property offers.
I appreciate that there may be concerns on your part regarding delays in dealing with some of these issues, particularly in responding to property offers. I must acknowledge that the previous Government had undertaken work in relation to this whole area and had made certain decisions which were outlined to you at a meeting in April 2010. I explained in my letters to you that further work had been undertaken since then: this included detailed consideration of the property offers by congregations and the consultation regarding, and preparation of legislation for, the proposed Statutory Fund, all of which has taken time. A general election and a change of Government and the unprecedented economic crisis faced by the country have intervened also. However, this Government, which took up office in March, has now had an opportunity to consider all of the relevant issues.
In summary the decisions taken by this Government are as follows:
It supports the call made to you last year to augment your original offers so as to achieve the 50:50 target;
It made decisions relating to property offers made by congregations;
It has decided to proceed with the establishment of a Statutory Fund to support the victims of residential institutional abuse and copies of the General Scheme of that legislation have been given to you;
It approved legislation to facilitate early winding-up of the Redress Board – this has now been addressed by legislation that has been approved by Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann; and
The memorial recommended in the Ryan Report is to advance to competition stage.
I noted in my letters to you that the Government was disappointed that the call made by the previous Government for an enhanced contribution yielded a very poor response. One congregation offered €1m together with an offer to refund some or all of its legal costs. Another congregation offered to transfer an old primary school. Many of you responded to the call by stating that you believed that you had met an appropriate share of the costs of redress. To put it bluntly your responses, both individually and collectively, are disappointing. I understand that when you met the Taoiseach and other ministers last year you raised the issue of seeking contributions from other management bodies, i.e. outside of the 18. That was done but I regret to say that the response proved equally unsuccessful.
I appreciate that congregations did not agree to the 50:50 share of the costs of abuse. The previous Government decided, in the light of the findings set out in the Ryan Report, that it was reasonable that the congregations should be asked to augment their contributions so as to achieve a 50:50 share. The findings set out in the Ryan Report were stark. The Report found that:
physical and emotional abuse and neglect were features of the institutions,
that sexual abuse occurred in many of them, particularly boys’ institutions
the level of discipline was oppressive
the harshness of the regime was part of the culture of the schools and it was systemic and not the result of individual breaches by persons operating outside the law
here was a climate of fear, created by pervasive, excessive and arbitrary punishment.
I could go on.
Of course the State did not escape criticism in the Ryan Report. However, as far back as 1999, the then Taoiseach, speaking on behalf of the Irish people apologised for the abuse that took place and for the State's role. This was reiterated by his successor when the Ryan Report was published. The State's apology has been augmented by the establishment and funding of the Redress Board and the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse and other support measures.
I would ask you to reflect on the components of the response to residential institutional abuse and in particular the Redress Board and the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse. What alternative was there to the Redress Board? Would your congregations have favoured pushing all of the former victims down the traumatic and costly litigation route with little chance of getting redress? Yes, Redress had a low burden of proof but was that not the right thing to introduce? Indeed does it not seem even more appropriate now with the benefit of hindsight in the light of the findings of the Ryan Commission? Similarly please reflect on the legitimate and important role of the Commission as an element of the response to residential abuse. Without the Commission the story of what happened would not have been told. These were essential components of the response. They are also the main components of the cost and you are being asked to share that cost.
It is obvious now that when the 2002 Indemnity Agreement was being finalised that there was no clear picture as to the actual final cost of redress. Any estimates at the time were crude as it was extremely difficult to estimate the number of potential applicants for redress or to gauge the actual level of awards that would be made. As time went on more definite figures were available and we know now that the final bill for the Redress Scheme will exceed €1bn. The State has met virtually the entirety of this cost. When the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee reviewed this issue in 2005, it noted that the €128m contributed by congregations under the 2002 Agreement would seem disproportionately small and it went on to say that the public would reasonably view a 50:50 share as being "fair and balanced and reflect the responsibilities of both the State and the Congregations". This view was reflected in subsequent Dáil debate.
Apart from the €128m contributed by your congregations in 2002, the State has of course met all of the costs of response to abuse. I welcome the fact that your congregations made offers of additional contributions in the aftermath of the publication of the Ryan Report. You have committed a further €111m in cash contributions and offered properties valued by you at €235.51m. Even if all of the properties were accepted by the Government the combined offers, when added to the €128m paid in 2002, would still fall some way short of a 50:50 share.
I understand that there is a view among congregations that they should not meet some of these costs as they were not consulted in relation to those measures or their involvement was limite. The argument has I understand been made by many congregations that they have paid their "fair share" of the costs of abuse.
While the confidentiality provisions of the Redress legislation impose restrictions I propose to explore ways in which we might obtain some indication of the relative involvement of different institutions in the redress process perhaps by direct contact between the Redress Board and congregations. I would ask for your co-operation in exploring this possibility.
Having regard to all of the facts the Government is fully satisfied that it is entirely right and proper that the managers of institutions be asked to meet a 50% share of the major costs of dealing with abuse. Putting it bluntly I believe that there is a moral responsibility on your congregations to significantly augment your contributions. Quite simply, this issue will not go away. I believe the public supports the 50:50 approach and will not see the issue as closed until that is delivered. I urge you therefore to reflect on these points and to revert to me at the earliest opportunity with your response. Less there be any ambiguity, I am calling on you to significantly increase the cash offers that you have already made.
As you know, the Government intends to use €110m of the cash you have committed to be placed in the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund and used for the benefit of former survivors who received redress awards and will assist them in accessing a range of services such as education, counselling, housing etc. These proposals emerged following a public consultation process and consultation with survivors. You have been provided with a copy of the report of the consultation process and of the General Scheme of the Bill to establish the Fund.
Any further cash contributions received from congregations will go towards the costs of the National Children's Hospital.
I wish to speak briefly now about property offers. I do not propose to deal here with the response to the individual property offers that your congregations have made: that will be done on a bilateral basis with my officials. Suffice it to say that having carefully considered the matter and consulted as widely as possible, it was clear to the Government that only 12 of the properties offered are of immediate benefit to the State. We would hope to proceed rapidly to complete the transfer of those properties.
Some of the other properties on offer are not of interest to the State at present but it is conceivable that this position may change at some time in the future. Given the gap in meeting a 50:50 share of the costs the Government wishes to explore the possibility of putting in place a legal mechanism which would provide the State with a long-term option on the school infrastructure belonging to your congregations. This would in effect mean that the title to the property could not be altered, whether by sale on the open market or by transfer into any Trust arrangement, without the prior consent of the Department of Education and Skills. This is of course a complex issue and much work will be required to put in place such a mechanism. Nevertheless I believe that it represents an avenue that should be considered most carefully in the context of making progress towards the achievement of the 50:50 share.
I want to dispel any notion that this particular proposal is in some way driven by ideology: it is not. The Government's sole aim in this is to achieve a reasonable response in terms of meeting the costs of the response to abuse. I wish to make clear also that if any education property is transferred to State ownership under this particular mechanism it would not follow that the current patronage arrangements would be affected. Such schools would remain as Catholic schools and that would not be altered without agreement: the lands would however be available to the State.
It is incumbent on all of us to look at constructive ways in which some of the difficulties before us can be addressed. I believe that the property related mechanism that I have just outlined would afford the congregations involved the opportunity to shoulder their share of the costs of responding to the horrendous wrongs suffered by children in their care, while at the same time, recognising the legitimate legacy of their contribution to Irish education.
Congregations have paid already paid €21.05m of their contributions and I greatly welcome this. A number of congregations had advised that they would make their contributions once they had sight of the proposals for the Fund. Concerns were also raised about the issue of charitable status for contributions. I hope that when you have examined General Scheme of the Bill you will be satisfied that your Congregation’s requirements have been met and that you can then make further payments.
In summary, I ask you
to accept that Government's responses to abuse and in particular the establishment of the Commission and the Redress process were the appropriate measures to address residential institutional abuse
to accept that a 50:50 share of the costs of redress between the State and the management bodies is an appropriate apportionment, and
to collaborate in identifying appropriate contributions for each congregation
I would like you to reflect on my requests and consider how we can work together to achieve a 50:50 sharing of the costs?
I look forward now to hearing each of your views.
18 Congregations who were party to 2002 Indemnity Agreement
Brothers of Charity
Daughters of Charity
Daughters of the Heart of Mary
De La Salle Brothers
Good Shepherd Sisters
Oblates of Mary Immaculate
Order of St. John of God
Sisters of Charity
Sisters of Mercy
Sisters of Nazareth
Sisters of Our Lady of Charity
Sisters of St. Clare
Sisters of St. Louis
Other management bodies who were written to seeking contributions
Dominican Order Of Nuns
Daughters of Liege
Board of Governors Baltimore Industrial School (Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Cork and Ross)
Daughters of Wisdom (Sisters of La Sagesse)
Mrs Smyly’s Trust
Cottage Home Child and Family Service
Miss Carr’s Children's Services
Sisters of Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary
Sisters of Charity of Jesus and Mary
Kirwan House Charity
Stewart's Hospital Services Ltd
Traveller Family Care
Los Angeles Society for Homeless Boys (now Home Alone)
Bishop of Raphoe (St Columba's Industrial School, Killybegs)
The Adelaide & Meath, Tallaght (Harcourt St Hospital) has not been approached to date.
 The details of all management bodies are included at Appedix 1
THE sacrament of Confession will not be exempt from rules on mandatory reporting of child abuse, Children’s Minister Frances Fitzgerald has vehemently insisted.
Amid the fallout from the Cloyne report’s exposure of former bishop John Magee for failing to report abusive priests, the minister reiterated warnings that there will be no exceptions to hardline rules on withholding information about child abuse.
New laws will also require frontline staff working with children taken into state care to investigate historic acts or allegations of abuse.
Health workers and carers will also be required to investigate allegations by adults about abuse that took place during their childhood.
Guidelines launched yesterday on protecting children include commitments to investigate the historic allegations of abuse.
Ms Fitzgerald said no child should ever suffer the evils of abuse as she launched Children First guidelines.
The guidelines include advice for frontline staff such as healthcare workers and gardaí who are alerted to the abuse or neglect of children.
The minister pledged that the guidelines would be enacted into law in the autumn.
Authorities will be required to investigate retrospective abuse disclosures by adults, so as to guard against the alleged perpetrator abusing other children.
Ms Fitzgerald said the recent report on clerical abuse in the diocese of Cloyne showed how society had failed children in the past.
"’My role as minster is to seek that never again will these evils be countenanced," she added.
The legislation will provide that all organisations comply with the Children First guidelines.
Health services, gardaí and care groups will have to share relevant information and co-operate in the best interests of the child.
There will be inspections of groups working with children and the guidelines for the first time highlight bullying as a feature of abuse.
"I want the message to go out that it is absolutely critical that if somebody has, on good faith, reasonable concerns over the abuse or neglect child then those concerns must be reported to the relevant authorities and to this end statutory reporting requirements will be addressed as one aspect of the proposed new Children First legislation," added the minister.
Children support groups welcomed the guidelines and the move to enforce them through legislation.
One in Four said it was an important step that historic allegations of abuse would have to be investigated under the new rules.
"Our clients are mainly adults who were sexually abused in childhood.
"The people who sexually abused them are often still living in the community and continue to pose a risk to children," explained executive director Maeve Lewis.
Gardaí said the guidelines would ensure there was no gap between services involved in protecting children.
Assistant Commissioner Derek Byrne said members of the force would be trained in the new rules.
He added: "The brutal and ugly reality is that there are people in the community who seek to hurt and abuse children."
Barnardos called for the laws backing up the guidelines to be passed as soon as possible.
The guidelines also have expanded the definition of physical abuse to include slapping.
The responsibilities of schools, hospitals, mental health services, GPs and the HSE are also set out in the guidelines.
Other areas covered include guidance on allegations against employers, on interviewing children, as well as advice on investigating cases where the victim and alleged abuser are both children.
A handbook for services on the guidelines will be launched for services in the autumn to coincide with the new laws.
Youth Work Ireland, which vets thousands of staff and volunteers, also welcomed the new guidelines.
THE list of guidelines to protect children describes the types of abuse that professionals working withchildren should be aware of.
These include emotional abuse, physical abuse, beating, slapping, hitting or kicking, terrorising with threats and suffocation.
Other types of abuse that gardaí and care workers are to watch for include signs or allegations of sexual abuse, including the child being exposed to sexual organs or being touched or molested.
Frontline staff investigating cases are also warned to look for signs that the child has been neglected.
Signs of abuse in general can be physical, behavioural or developmental.
Other signs a child has been abused include if they engage in abnormal sexual play, abscond from home or a care centre or if they attempt suicide.
HSE services should always be contacted when signs of abuse are noticed and only health professionals should interview a child about the issues.
The guidelines warn about the importance of intervention in a family where there are signs of abuse.
"Sympathy for families in difficult circumstances can sometimes dilute personal or professional concerns about the safety and welfare of children. However, the protection and welfare of the child must always be the paramount concern," the guidelines state.
"It is the responsibility of all agencies working with children and for the public to recognise child protection concerns and share these with the agencies responsible for assessing or investigating them, not to determine whether the child protection concerns are evidenced or not."
This appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Saturday, July 16, 2011
For decades the great majority of people took their ethics from the church. We never developed a civic ethic that could replace that system when the inevitable crisis arrived
ENDA Kenny calls the Vatican's handling of clerical sex abuse scandals "disgraceful". Eamon Gilmore meets the Papal Nuncio and demands an explanation from the Vatican of why the Catholic Church's guidelines on the subject were ignored and allegations of abuse went unreported.
Not all that long ago, Irish politicians feared a "belt of a crozier". Much has changed, and for the better.
And that is the true significance of the Cloyne Report. Not the sadly familiar details of the crimes and cover-ups. Not even the breathtaking arrogance and flagrant disregard of the law. The greatest change is in the political response.
That change has been in train for many years. As far back as October 2002, Michael McDowell famously equated the Catholic Church's canon law with the rules of a golf club. Earlier, the church had issued guidelines that provided for mandatory reporting of alleged sexual abuse of minors to the civil authorities.
Any argument about the supposed primacy of canon law over civil law is over. But guidelines can be ignored or circumvented, and evidently more than one Irish diocese has been governed by people who think they can make up their own rules.
They have thereby risked the ultimate threat to their shaky authority: an outright church-State confrontation.
In the past, such an outcome to friction between church and State has always been avoided, by compromise or obfuscation or a climbdown by politicians who thought the crozier more powerful than the Dail. Not this time. The politicians have responded to the Cloyne Report with an unequivocal challenge that, as they clearly believe, they are certain to win.
In some ways, this is a regrettable moment in our history. For centuries, the great majority of the Irish people took their ethics from the church. We never developed a civic ethic that could replace that system when the inevitable crisis arrived. The decline -- crash might be a better word -- of the church's authority has left us rudderless.
Our situation is also an indictment of most bishops' attitude to reform. All institutions require constant reform, and those who fail to recognise that risk at best stagnation, at worst having their wisest words as much ignored as their most foolish.
But reform is, after all, an internal matter. Obedience to the law of the land is the duty and concern of everyone. The politicians have rightly decided that the law must not only be obeyed but strengthened.
Instead of breast-beating and lamentation, we are to have two new pieces of legislation designed to protect minors, and instead of polite diplomatic words we have heard outright criticism of the Vatican itself.
That is greatly to the credit of the Government. It is also to the credit of the Fianna Fail party.
In recent times, Fianna Fail effectively replaced Fine Gael as the "Catholic" party. Lately, it has come under pressure from right-wing Catholic apologists and organisations to assert the "conservative" view on what are coyly called social issues. But in the present case, it has shown good sense by standing firm.
It remains to be seen how all the main parties handle the outstanding issues of contention between church and State. These may be summed up, in ascending order of complexity, as follows: same-sex marriage, compensation for victims of institutional abuse, primary education and abortion.
The first is not really an issue, and certainly should not be an issue. Same-sex couples in civil partnerships already have all the rights of married couples. Only an insignificant minority feel aggrieved that these partnerships are not described as marriages. We should leave well enough alone.
As to the payment of the compensation, the last government made a very bad deal with the religious orders involved. Most people would agree that the liability should be shared 50-50. But the orders fear that such an arrangement could bankrupt many of them. They have little cash, and the value of buildings and land has plummeted. However, in case anyone hasn't noticed, the State has no money at all.
On primary education, Ruairi Quinn has proposed that the State should take over the management of 50pc of the schools. The church proposes retaining control of 90pc. This does not strike me as a viable proposition. The Education Minister's proposal is more realistic.
But abortion is the really tricky question.
We have had three referendums on the issue of overturning the Supreme Court judgment in the "X" case, that a threat of suicide constitutes a danger to the life of a pregnant woman. All three attempts have failed. We don't want yet another. Instead, we should have legislation to determine the circumstances in which a termination of pregnancy may legally take place.
But let us leave aside for the moment the direct conflict between those who oppose abortion in any circumstances and those who approve of it in some circumstances. What circumstances? And on the reasonable assumption that most of us would answer "very restricted", can there be credible guarantees that they would remain restricted and that the actual regime would not amount to "abortion on demand"?
This argument is not suitable for an impassioned, confrontational campaign, such as we have known in the past.
I suggest that the Government should publish a paper setting out the options as coolly and objectively as possible, and follow it up with a series of consultations. There is plenty of time.
There has already been plenty of time -- too much -- for the subject I haven't mentioned. Yet in the years since it arrived on the agenda, we have never seen the text of the referendum on children's rights or heard any explanation of what has delayed it.
This is something I don't understand. Are there pressure groups, or legal experts, who think that asserting children's rights would undermine "the traditional family"? If so, let them tell us.
And while they are about it, let them tell us what measures they think we need to support an institution of which everybody approves but which has been shaken to its roots by our financial disasters and by the shredding of the church's authority.
I would be very happy to see the bishops taking part in a debate like that. If they do, I promise to listen. But if they want a mass audience, they will have to speak with clarity and objectivity. And humility.
Maybe Cloyne, and the shock of the reaction to it, will have given them a little lesson in this rarest of virtues.
NO one who knows him doubts Alan Shatter's determination to bring the Roman Catholic Church to heel after the latest litany of clerical child abuse and cover-ups in Cloyne. The Taoiseach and the Tanaiste's anger yesterday reflected the Justice Minister's fury, and today the Government will announce further child-protection measures.
Mr Shatter's new law to force the disclosure of even a suspicion of child abuse will carry a five-year jail term on conviction. But then another law, in response to the Ferns report and rushed though in 2006, had a 10-year sentence for very much the same offence.
So, like many other initiatives announced in the immediate wake of the latest child-abuse scandal, the latest new law has as much to do with assuaging public anger than jailing child-abusing clergy.
The new law proposed by Mr Shatter includes vulnerable adults as well as children, but covers much the same ground as the 2006 Act. It requires anyone, although it is clearly aimed at priests, who suspects a child has been abused to report the matter to the gardai.
On the face of it, Mr Shatter goes into battle with the Roman Catholic Church with not only God but also the Irish people on his side.
But the argument has already been diverted -- and the Roman Catholic Church is preparing to switch the confrontation to keeping a seal on the confession box. It is a battle the church is confident of winning so long as they can draw the debate away from the abuse of children and direct it to the sacrament of the confessional.
Mr Shatter is Jewish so fair-minded people should see him as more detached than many of his colleagues. But the more shrill Catholics will almost certainly invoke his religious origins as he tries to make the hierarchy accountable to civil law.
The Justice Minister is aware of what he is up against. Interviews given by Monsignor Denis O'Callaghan, who was in charge of policing clerical child abuse, indicate he was more in tune with canon law than his church's rules, introduced in 1996. And, of course, according to canon law, suffering from paedophilia is a legitimate defence for a priest accused of paedophilia.
The Roman Catholic Church has been ridding itself of troublesome politicians like Mr Shatter for a couple of millennia.
THOUSANDS of victims of sexual abuse look certain to miss out on compensation after it was confirmed the redress board would be wound down in September.
Although applications for compensation officially ended in 2005, late claims have been accepted by the board ever since for "exceptional circumstances". However, Education Minister Ruairi Quinn has said he wants to pass legislation to make September 16 the final cut-off point for all late applications.
Victims' groups -- already reeling from the findings of the damning Cloyne Report into clerical sex abuse -- yesterday warned the minister a significant number of survivors, including many living abroad, would miss out on the compensation they are owed.
They also urged the Government to launch a campaign in the UK and other countries with significant numbers of ex-pat survivors to raise awareness about the imminent closure of the board.
THE Government was at war with the Vatican last night over its silence on the Cloyne sex abuse report as anger grew over the failure of Bishop John Magee to publicly apologise for his role in the scandal.
As both Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore demanded answers from the Vatican:
•Fine Gael chairman Charlie Flanagan called for the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Giuseppe Leanze, to be expelled.
•The fallout raised suggestions that an expected visit by Pope Benedict XVI to Ireland next year may not now take place.
•A number of victims accused the Vatican of shielding former Bishop of Cloyne Dr Magee.
Relations between the State and the Holy See deteriorated dramatically yesterday, with Mr Kenny describing the Vatican's attitude towards the reporting of abuse allegations as "absolutely disgraceful".
Mr Kenny backed tough new laws that will compel priests to report paedophiles to gardai, even if they are told of the abuse in the confession box.
"The law of the land should not be stopped by crozier or by collar," he said.
The hardline government stance followed revelations in the Cloyne Report that Bishop Magee and the Vatican encouraged the concealment of abuse allegations.
The bishop has not appeared in public since the Commission of Investigation report, published on Wednesday, found him primarily responsible for the failure of the diocese to report clerical abuse allegations to gardai over a 13-year period.
One victim told the Irish Independent it was "beyond belief" that Catholic authorities had not insisted Bishop Magee be available to answer questions about his actions.
"It speaks volumes about the attitude from top to bottom. It is absolutely appalling and heartbreaking," she said.
Irish church officials last night denied any knowledge of Bishop Magee's whereabouts.
He has not been seen at his home in Mitchelstown, Co Cork, in several weeks and locals said they believed he had travelled to the US.
Archbishop of Cashel and Emly Dermot Clifford, who has taken over the running of the diocese, said it would be "helpful" for Bishop Magee to be available to answer questions.
Earlier, Mr Gilmore summoned Dr Leanza to the Department of Foreign Affairs to explain why the Vatican gave individual bishops the freedom to disregard agreed 1996 child protection guidelines.
Mr Gilmore said the report's "deeply disturbing" conclusions had given rise to a new public anger at the failure of the church and Vatican authorities to deal adequately with clerical child sexual abuse in Ireland.
"I told him that the Government considered it unacceptable that the Vatican intervention may have led priests to believe that they could in conscience evade their responsibilities under Irish laws," Mr Gilmore said.
"This is not something that occurred in the dim-distant past, this is very recent, and it is absolutely unacceptable."
It was the second time in the space of 18 months that Dr Leanza has been summoned for a meeting in the Department of Foreign Affairs.
He was previously called in after the Murphy Report into clerical child sexual abuse in the Dublin Archdiocese found the Vatican had refused to co-operate with its request for documents.
Then-Taoiseach Brian Cowen defended the Vatican in the wake of the report by saying that it had acted in "good faith", even if the best outcome was not achieved.
However, both Mr Gilmore and Mr Kenny have taken a much tougher line in relation to the Vatican after it was again criticised in the Cloyne Report.
Dr Leanza said he had been given a copy of the report by Mr Gilmore and would be bringing it immediately to the attention of the Holy See.
He declined to answer questions following the meeting, but said: "Naturally I am very distressed myself at what have again been failures in assuring the protection of children within the church despite all the good work that has been done."
Mr Flanagan later called for the archbishop to be expelled.
"In any jurisdiction if the representatives of another jurisdiction conspired with citizens of that state to commit criminal acts, they would be gone," he said.
However, the Government is going to wait for the response of the Vatican to the Cloyne Report before taking any further action.
The coalition last night refused to rule out the prospect of shutting Ireland's embassy in the Vatican.
Mr Gilmore said: "The issue of embassies, and where we will have them in the future, is something I will be considering."
APOLOGIES AND “regrets”, countless “sorrys”, compensation for victims of abuse, and three previous scathing statutory reports notwithstanding, yet the Catholic hierarchy still just doesn’t get it. Where’s the firm purpose of amendment? That, in truth, is the overwhelming and understandable perception of a bewildered public to the Cloyne report and its findings, an impression, if anything, confirmed by the response to it of the hierarchy.
The church authorities, it appears clear, continued to put priests’ and bishops’ feelings and interests, and church interests, ahead of the welfare of children in the diocese in flagrant breach of the child abuse guidelines they themselves introduced as far back as 1996. In Cloyne, deplorably encouraged by a confidential 1997 Vatican letter to the Irish bishops, these were regarded as optional, and in 2004 an internal independent report for the diocese (McCoy), that largely went unread, warned they were being ignored. Yet it was only in 2008, after a damning public report from the National Board for Safeguarding Children (NBSC), that the Irish hierarchy appears to have reluctantly become engaged. Then, and in January 2009, it was only to defend Bishop John Magee’s right to stay on. And why, apparently, were no questions asked by the hierarchy between 1996 and 2008 about what was going on in Cork?
What is clear is that the idea of collective institutional or individual moral responsibility for the actions of those subject to their authority is still anathema to the hierarchy. Cardinal Seán Brady and Archbishop Dermot Clifford have given defensive and unsatisfactory answers to the Cloyne report, unconvincingly explaining away their continuing refusal in early 2009 to demand Bishop Magee’s resignation despite the fact they were aware from the NBSC report of December 2008 that he had been flouting the guidelines. Dr Clifford, who belatedly became convinced of the untenability of Dr Magee’s position, yesterday acknowledged the latter had “lied” and had singularly failed properly to supervise Msgr Denis O’Callaghan who was in charge of implementing child protection policies he openly disagreed with.
It is their failure to deal with these Magee lacunae, rather than the issue of his “inappropriate” conduct with “Joseph”, arguably not a sacking offence, that continues to raise real questions about the tenability of both men’s positions. The willingness of the hierarchy over time to cut their own members the same slack that bishops have been criticised for allowing to abuser priests reflects at root the same problem of an institution whose instinct remains above all self-preservation.
The response of the Government to the report is, however, welcome though belated. Legislation to put on a statutory basis the Children First guidelines, to be published today, and to make the withholding from gardaí of information about abuse, despite concerns about the “seal of the confessional”, are important and overdue measures. It is also crucial that the vital audits of child protection practices in the country’s other dioceses, undertaken by the NBSC, proceed speedily.
The Catholic Church and the State are on a collision course over Government plans to force priests to disclose information on child sexual abuse obtained in the confessional.
The measure, announced in response to the findings of a report on the handling of child abuse complaints in the diocese of Cloyne, is likely to encounter significant resistance within the church.
Under the plans put forward by Minister for Justice Alan Shatter, priests could be jailed for up to five years for failing to disclose information on serious offences against a child even if this was obtained in Confession.
The fallout from the Cloyne report continued yesterday, with the Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore sharply criticising the Vatican for undermining the Irish bishops’ child protection rules.
“The law of the land should not be stopped by a crozier or by a collar,” Mr Kenny said, while Fine Gael chairman Charlie Flanagan and the Socialist Party called for the expulsion of the Vatican’s representative in Ireland, the papal nuncio Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza.
Asked for his reaction to the criticisms, the Vatican’s senior spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi declined to comment, saying only: “I have nothing to say until such time as there is a formal Vatican response.”
Church spokesmen said yesterday they wanted to see the text of Mr Shatter’s Bill before making a definitive comment. However, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Armagh Dr Gerard Clifford said the bond of secrecy attached to Confession had to be respected.
A priest would “recommend” anyone admitting to a serious crime in Confession to go to the civil authorities.
A spokesman for the Catholic bishops said the “seal of Confession places an onerous responsibility on the confessor/priest, and a breach of it would be a serious offence to the rights of penitents”. He pointed approvingly to remarks made yesterday by Fr PJ Madden of the Association of Catholic Priests, who said the seal of the Confession was above the law of the land.
Fr Madden said the seal was “above and beyond all else” and could not be broken even if a penitent confessed to a crime.
Dr Clifford said former Bishop of Cloyne John Magee, whose whereabouts are unknown, should make himself available to answer questions about the report.
Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald is due to publish guidance on child protection rules today, along with a HSE plan to implement the rules consistently across the State.
A decision on whether to hold further inquiries into the handling of abuse complaints in other dioceses will be made in the autumn.
Mr Shatter is awaiting the results of two audits of church compliance with child protection procedures, one being carried out by the HSE, the other by the church’s National Board for Safeguarding Children.
The bishops’ spokesman said they would co-operate fully with the civil authorities. The Cloyne report is to be considered by the bishops at their next meeting in September.
The Dáil is set to hold a 2½-hour discussion of it on Wednesday.
Mr Kenny hinted that the Government could close the Irish Embassy to the Holy See in the wake of the report. Asked if the Government might close the Embassy given that it already has an Embassy in Italy, Mr Kenny said the Minister for Foreign Affairs had “adjustments” to make to Irish diplomatic representation.
“I’m quite sure that he will take into account the straitened circumstances of the country and make his decision known to the Government in due course about what adjustments he wishes to make.”
Mr Gilmore told the papal nuncio he wanted a response from the Vatican as to why it had told priests and bishops they could undermine rules laid down by the Irish bishops.
YESTERDAY’S Cloyne Report is shocking — yet in many ways not shocking at all.
So the Catholic Church did not monitor itself? (disregarding Cardinal Brady’s statement that the structures are working). This should not surprise. Most powerful hierarchical institutions with all the arrogance this allows would protect themselves. In particular, men like Bishop Magee, from whom I received the sacrament of communion, of whom our parents spoke admiringly, who lived in the most elaborate residence in Cobh — existed within this power, making them believe they were infallible.
Yet the report has highlighted the same issues addressed in previous reports into child abuse in Dublin, Ferns and residential institutions, and comes to the same conclusion: the institution (be it church or state) always comes first; families and vulnerable children always last.
It also highlights the need for prosecutions, legislative changes and a wider debate on who are the vulnerable in society. That the situation in Cloyne occurred from 1996-2009 does not shock me. However, the report does signal wider historical questions that have not been addressed sufficiently.
Firstly, child abuse and child sexual abuse are not crimes that only became known in Ireland in the 1990s. From the late 19th-century, the courts, the press and voluntary societies all flagged the problem, albeit couched in euphemisms such as "bad things done in private".
From 1912-1920 the feminist newspaper The Irish Citizen regularly reported cases of child sexual abuse from the Dublin courts. This was not an easy task for Marion Duggan and the "Watching the Courts Committee", as at this time women were asked to leave the court during such sensitive cases to protect their dignity. Yet these women refused.
From the 1920s, even debates on censorship of the media were couched in sexual subtext. The Catholic Church highlighted sex more than anyone else. In the 1930s, the Carrigan Committee discussed child sexual abuse under the auspices of "juvenile prostitution"; juvenile prostitution being a young child being given a reward (usually a sweet or money) for a sexual act.
Secondly, we must never forget that the wide-reaching power of the Catholic Church in Ireland was only solidified in the post-famine period. Upon independence, the Church consolidated this power, and society reacted with the respect and veneration that I and previous generations remember vividly.
My generation has, to a large extent, rejected the Church and all its trimmings. We want abortion legalised, we want secular education, same-sex marriage, women to be seen and viewed as equal (within and outside the church). Mostly, we want religion to be kept private, we want a secular society.
Yet the Church is in no way the only protagonist. The state has had an easier critique throughout the reports and media attention. The redress scheme ensured that no ex-resident of the industrial school system brought a case through the courts. The Ryan Report resulted in no prosecutions. So many abuses, but a good deal done for those in power by Bertie Ahern and Michael Woods in the 1990s; one that has enabled the state to put the industrial schools debacle "in the past".
Yesterday, the Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald stated: "Never again will someone be allowed to place the protection of their institution above the protection of children."
This is not the first time such promises have been made by politicians in contemporary Ireland, lending little comfort to families and society. If change is to occur we must challenge old institutions, acknowledge who the vulnerable children are, accept as a society that a child from the travelling community or a working-class community has equal status to a child from a middle or upper-class family. Abuse is about power, we must create a society where social justice is paramount, and then perhaps we can stop repeating the abuses of the past.
* Dr Sarah-Anne Buckley is a lecturer in the School of History, UCC. Her work centres on the history of child welfare and child protection in Ireland. She is originally from Cobh, Co Cork.
This appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Friday, July 15, 2011
Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has told the Papal Nuncio that he wants a 'response' and an explanation from the Vatican as to why Irish church guidelines were ignored and allegations of abuse went unreported in the Diocese of Cloyne.
He said he was very distressed again at the failure to protect children in the Church and he wished to reiterate the Holy See's commitment to child protection.
Former child protection delegate of the diocese, Monsignor Denis O'Callaghan, has told RTÉ News that he has major regrets about the way he implemented the church's child protection guidelines in the diocese.
No exemptions on mandatory reporting
Meanwhile, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said the new law on mandatory reporting of child abuse will apply irrespective of location or circumstance of the persons involved.
Mr Kenny was replying to a question from journalists as to whether the traditional Catholic seal of the confessional will be exempted from the law.
'The law of the land should not be stopped by crosier or by collar,' he said.
He added he hopes the response from the Government to the Cloyne Report will make it beyond a doubt that things are reported and the law of the land applies in situations where appalling actions took place.
The Taoiseach described as 'absolutely disgraceful' the attitude of the Vatican to complaints of child sex abuse in the Cloyne.
Mr Kenny also called on the Vatican to reiterate its view that civil law should always be followed and he hinted that Mr Gilmore may consider the future of the Irish Embassy to the Holy See.
The Cloyne Report is to be debated in the Dáil next Tuesday or Wednesday, depending on availability of Ministers and spokespersons.
Laying out a series of legislative measures of the house, the Tánaiste said the Government shared the sense of outrage about the findings of the report.
He said it was the latest in a sequence of reports that catalogued a betrayal of trust of abused children and of the Irish people.
He said the failure to co-operate with the law was one of the greatest problems and the Government was determined to ensure that such an omission would have consequences.
Socialist TD Joe Higgins said people were 'throwing their hands in the air' at the revelations in the Cloyne Report.
He said what was most shocking was that the subject matter was so recent and that the bishop at the heart of the report, Bishop John Magee, was also at the heart of Vatican bureaucracy for so long.
Sinn Féin's Mary Lou McDonald said the report was another chapter in the 'sordid story of the violation of children and the sheltering of abuse perpetrators by the (Catholic) church'.
Ms McDonald said it needed to be recognised that to date the State has failed children.
She welcomed the Government's commitment to legislate to boost protection of children, but asked the Tánaiste to do it with urgency.
Fianna Fáil's Éamon Ó Cuív said his party would continue to support any initiative that would ensure that such acts would never happen again.
Mr Ó Cuív described what had happened as unforgiveable.
Vatican ignored own guidelines
The report into clerical sex abuse revealed how the Catholic Diocese of Cloyne, Co Cork - backed by the Vatican - was ignoring the church's own guidelines on child protection as recently as 2009.
The report also found that in most cases gardaí were not informed of child abuse allegations against clergy.
The diocese's new designated officer for safeguarding children has said that no new reports of child abuse have been reported in Cloyne since February.
ANOTHER ROUND of breast-beating by Catholic churchmen over the sexual abuse of children in their pastoral care has become a source of public anger, rather than of reassurance. Apologies and pledges of future cooperation with civil authorities have lost all credibility following 15 years of foot-dragging and broken promises. The latest report into this festering scandal by the Murphy commission demonstrates clearly that the Government has to assert its authority and ensure primacy of State law. This, after all, does not centre on failures in our dark, secretive past of decades ago; it relates to allegations made in the recent 1996 to 2009 period.
Thankfully, Ministers Alan Shatter and Frances Fitzgerald propose to introduce legislation and statutory changes that will at last protect children and vindicate their rights. Failure to report sexual abuse of a child or an intellectually disabled person to the Garda Síochána will be a criminal offence. Children First regulations will be put on a statutory basis; agencies working with children will have to share “soft information” and there will be robust oversight of child protection services.
Three reports into child abuse uncovered common themes: extensive clerical predation; concern for the abuser rather than for the victim by church authorities and denial and suppression of information. An audit of these matters by the Catholic Church’s own National Board for Safeguarding Children – as a means of identifying and rejecting past unacceptable behaviour – has been thwarted by some bishops who refused access to their files. The Government is now demanding full co-operation and publication of a report by a set date. Cardinal Seán Brady appears amenable to that.
Catholic authorities took out insurance against anticipated claims of child abuse by paedophile priests 23 years ago. Since then, as scandal has been piled upon scandal, bishops, archbishops and cardinals – supported by the Vatican – have engaged in systematic cover-up and relied on canon law and the concept of “mental reservation” to minimise issues and to flout the State’s laws. In the process, they have dismayed and alienated many of their followers. In all of this, Vatican authorities have played a malign, controlling role. When Irish bishops agreed child protection guidelines in 1996 the document was not approved by Rome. That encouraged conservative church elements to ignore the guidelines and to cling to canon law in defence of their reputations and their assets. That devious response was reflected by Bishop John Magee’s actions in preparing a truthful report on clerical abuse for the Vatican and a false one for diocesan files.
Describing the Vatican’s reaction to the Irish bishops’ framework document as “entirely unhelpful”, the Cloyne report claims this gave individual bishops freedom to ignore the procedures which they had agreed. This finding alone necessitates a comprehensive response from Rome. The many victims of clerical abuse in Ireland and the church’s followers here, above all, deserve no less.
A WOMAN who was sexually assaulted in an industrial school by the priest who referred her to the institution was denied money towards counselling because Monsignor Denis O’Callaghan was afraid of giving "compensation by subterfuge".
The victim, given the pseudonym Rona, was sent to industrial school in Cork in 1965 on the recommendation of a priest dubbed Fr Darian.
When this man visited her he sexually assaulted her. When she cried for help her mother dismissed the allegations, deemed her to be "mad" and committed her to an "asylum".
Mgr O’Callaghan was told about this in 1996 but did not do anything about it, or contact the alleged rapist, because Fr Darian was terminally ill. The concern was that raising his history of abuse would have further distressed the dying priest.
Mgr O’Callaghan did not even refer the case to Bishop John Magee and instead initially offered to pay for Rona’s counselling.
However, when he sensed there might also be a demand for compensation, he said the diocese was not responsible.
The case was left stand for five years. At that stage Mgr O’Callaghan rejected a suggestion by an unnamed nun that the diocese could cover the costs of counselling which Rona had already had.
However, "Monsignor O’Callaghan expressed the view that, in the absence of invoices or receipts, this could be ‘incriminating’ and might be seen as compensation by subterfuge".
At no point, in 1996 or in 2002 did Mgr O’Callaghan refer the allegations to the Garda or the health board. He eventually paid for invoiced counselling sessions from the diocesan account in Mallow.
There was no record in the diocesan files of Bishop Magee having been made aware of the case. However, the nun said she and Rona met the Bishop in April 2002.
The Commission was critical of the manner in which Mgr O’Callaghan and the Cloyne diocese dealt with the abuse.
This appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Thursday, July 14,
Bishop Magee in St Colman?s Cathedral in the Diocese of Cloyne
PAUL CULLEN, PATSY McGARRY and PADDY AGNEW
The Cloyne report on the bishop and the Vatican: Tough new laws to force the disclosure of information on child sexual abuse are to be introduced in response to another damning report on the failure of the Catholic Church to protect child abuse victims.
The withholding of information about serious offences against a child will be made a criminal offence, Minister for Justice Alan Shatter announced yesterday following the publication of the report on the handling of sex abuse claims in the diocese of Cloyne.
Further measures, including a statutory child protection code, are to be announced by Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald tomorrow.
The report found that the Bishop of Cloyne, John Magee, misled the minister for children by claiming the church’s guidelines for handling abuse cases were being fully complied with. It also found he falsely told the Health Service Executive (HSE) that allegations of abuse were being reported to gardaí.
In fact, two-thirds of complaints made between 1996 and 2008 were not reported to the Garda and no complaint was passed to the HSE during this period.
The report accuses the Vatican, through its opposition to the Irish bishops’ procedures for handling child sexual abuse, of giving comfort to dissenters within the church who did not want to implement them. In a secret letter to the bishops, Rome describes the 1996 rules as “merely a study document” and not official.
Senior Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi issued an emphatic “no comment” when asked about the Cloyne report. He did not rule out making a comment at a later date, by which time the Holy See would have had a chance to assess the report fully.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore said last night he would be calling the papal nuncio to a meeting over the findings.
Mr Shatter said the intervention by the then papal nuncio - whom he described as an ambassador from a foreign state - was unfortunate and unacceptable when the country had been assured the church had implemented new child protection guidelines.
Describing it as a matter of some seriousness, Mr Shatter said it was a matter for the Tánaiste to “have a conversation” with the nuncio. It is understood officials were keen to hold talks as early as today but no date for the meeting has been arranged.
Bishop Magee and the Catholic primate Cardinal Seán Brady apologised for the church’s failures in relation to child protection in the diocese, while Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan apologised to the victims involved in three cases where the report was critical of the approach adopted his officers.
Mr Shatter expressed his “sorrow and profound apology”.
The “learning curve” used to excuse the poor handling of complaints in earlier reports does not apply in Cloyne, the report points out. All of the allegations were made after 1996, when new procedures were put in place to deal with complaints.
As Ms Fitzgerald pointed out: “This is not a catalogue of failure from a different era. This is not about an Ireland of 50 years ago. This is about Ireland now.”
Bishop Magee is described in the 341-page report as ineffective and faulted for taking little real interest in the implementation of the guidelines on child sexual abuse for 12 years. He assigned responsibility to Msgr Denis O’Callaghan, who was “uncommitted” to the guidelines, frustrated their implementation and acted in what he perceived were the best interests of the church.
“It is truly scandalous that people who presented a public face of concern continued to maintain a private agenda of concealment and evasion,” Mr Shatter commented.
President Mary McAleese said the report showed that many lessons still had to be learned in relation to the welfare and protection of children.
Bishop Magee repeated earlier apologies for his failure to ensure abuse victims were fully supported and responded to. While insisting he was fully supportive of the 1996 church guidelines on abuse cases, he admitted he should have taken a much firmer role in ensuring their implementation.
“I am sorry that this happened and I unreservedly apologise to all those who suffered additional hurt because of the flawed implementation of the church procedures, for which I take full responsibility,” he said in a statement. Bishop Magee was not in his home yesterday and his whereabouts were unknown.
Msgr O’Callaghan admitted that in some cases he became “emotionally and pastorally drawn to the plight of the accused priest, to the detriment of the pastoral response I intended to make to complainants”.
Cardinal Brady apologised and expressed his “shame and sorrow” at what happened in Cloyne.
He said he would not resign because he wanted to continue the work to safeguard children from abuse.
The report describes the handling of “allegations, complaints, suspicions and concerns” about 19 clerics. One of these, and the only person who is named, is Bishop Magee.
He is alleged to have embraced a 17-year-old youth and kissed him on the forehead, which was deemed to be inappropriate but not reportable behaviour.
THE reputation of the former Bishop of Cloyne is expected to be "utterly destroyed" when a report into clerical sex abuse in his diocese is published today.
The Irish Independent has learned that Dr John Magee will be lambasted for allowing free reign to a monsignor who was in charge of securing safeguards against child abuse.
A source with access to the report said: "Magee is responsible for giving free reign to Monsignor Denis O'Callaghan, who was in charge of safeguards against child abuse in the diocese."
The report follows a two-year investigation by Circuit Court Judge Yvonne Murphy into allegations of child abuse against 19 clerics in the diocese between 1996 and 2009.
Monsignor O'Callaghan, like Bishop Magee, was never accused of child abuse, but criticised for failing to prevent it or not diligently pursing allegations of it.
Sources also said the report will show a "breathtaking level of indifference" to child protection by the church and State.
It will be worse than the report into the Ferns diocese, because none of the lessons were learnt from the clerical sex abuse crisis in the Wexford area.
"The story has not changed, red flags were ignored by both the church and the state authorities," said one legal source who added that the report will demonstrate a major clash between canon and civil law.
"The Government still cannot reach into the jurisdiction of the church."
One minister, who did not want to be identified, said the behaviour of the bishop and the administration of his diocese was "as bad as anything in any other report into clerical child abuse".
The Government's immediate response to the report will be the publication, on Friday, of the new 'Children's First Guidelines'.
The guidelines will be placed on a statutory footing in a bid to restore confidence in the State's handling of sexual abuse of children by clerics.
The latest inquiry into the diocese of Cloyne was ordered after the church's own abuse watchdog found that Bishop Magee took minimal action when two of his priests were accused of abusing children.
The National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church also said that the little action that Bishop Magee took was inappropriately delayed.
Bishop Magee apologised to victims when that inquiry's report were first published in December 2008.
Another audit commissioned by the Department of Health and published in January 2009 reported that the bishop failed to tell the authorities that one of his priests was suspected of child abuse.
The administration of the diocese was taken over by the Archbishop of Cashel and Emly, Dermot Clifford, before Bishop Magee formally resigned.
He has not been seen for weeks at the church property in Mitchelstown, Co Cork, to which he retired last year. The house, just metres from the town's CBS secondary school, has dominating views over the busy market town.
"The last I heard was that he was supposed to be overseas. But you don't really see him around much," said a local.
Last night sources close to the church indicated that Bishop Magee, a secretary to three Popes before his appointment as Bishop of Cloyne in 1987, was thought to be out of Ireland.
Victims will have an opportunity to study Judge Murphy's findings and recommendations for several hours before the media is briefed on the 400-page document just after lunchtime today.
One entire chapter has been edited out of the report on the directions of the High Court because of ongoing criminal proceedings against a single cleric.
•In response to today's publication of the Cloyne report, the Health Service Executive has set up a dedicated helpdesk for people who suffered clerical child sexual abuse.
Its freephone number, 1800 742800, will "go live" at 3pm today until midnight, and daily then from 8am to midnight.
THE LONG-AWAITED report into the handling of clerical sexual abuse allegations in the Catholic Diocese of Cloyne is to be published this afternoon.
The report was approved for publication at the Cabinet meeting yesterday. The Commission of Investigation Report into the Catholic Diocese of Cloyne, the report’s full title, will be published by Minister for Justice Alan Shatter and Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald.
Commissioned in January 2009 by then minister for children Barry Andrews, it was presented to then minister for justice Dermot Ahern on December 23rd last.
In extending the remit of the Murphy commission to include Cloyne, as well as the Dublin archdiocese, Mr Andrews was responding to public outcry which followed publication in December 2008 of a review of child protection practices in Cloyne by the Catholic Church’s own child protection watchdog, the National Board for Safeguarding Children.
It found child protection practices there to be “inadequate and in some respects dangerous”.
The commission was asked by the Government to investigate the handling of clerical child sex abuse allegations in Cloyne by church and State authorities between January 1st, 1996 (when the church’s first published guidelines, its Framework Document, came into play) and February 1st, 2009.
In March 2009, Bishop of Cloyne John Magee stood aside from duties in the diocese so he could co-operate more fully with the commission, and Archbishop of Cashel Dermot Clifford was appointed as apostolic administrator to the diocese. In March 2010, Bishop Magee resigned.
Today’s report is understood to include findings on all 19 priests who faced allegations over the 13-year period investigated. Findings against one priest are being withheld as he is before the courts.
CONCERNS have been raised that the terms of reference for the inter-departmental committee to investigate state interaction with the Magdalene Laundries have yet to be made public.
The Justice for Magdalenes (JFM) group has written to Justice Minister Alan Shatter and independent chairperson of the committee Dr Martin McAleese, to express its concern that the committee’s terms of reference and the powers of the independent chairman have yet to be made public in advance of the committee’s first meeting, which is expected to take place this week.
In the letter to Mr Shatter, Prof James Smith of JFM said such a move was crucial to "ensure transparency" in the process.
"We wish also to put in writing JFM’s continuing concerns regarding the proposed inter-departmental committee. It is important from JFM’s perspective that the committee’s terms of reference be made available publicly as soon as possible, and certainly no later than the end of the committee’s first meeting which you [Mr Shatter] mentioned would take place this week. Likewise, it is important that Dr Martin McAleese’s powers, as independent chair of the Committee, also be made available publicly," said the letter.
Prof Smith also makes it clear in the letter that the publication of these issues "is crucial" to ensuring the group’s continued support of the Government’s twin-track investigative process.
In both letters, Prof Smith also expressed his concern that the process of clarifying and creating a narrative of state interaction with the Magdalene Laundries extended beyond forms of direct involvement (referring women or girls to the laundries or supporting them by awarding contracts to them and engaging them to provide laundry services) to include acts of omission, or the ways in which the state failed to exercise due diligence in preventing abuse in the laundries (failure to inspect, regulate and monitor them).
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has indicated he is willing to open the Dublin Diocesan Archives for research into Church-state interaction on the laundries.
In a meeting with representatives of JFM last week, Archbishop Martin is also believed to have expressed his support for the inter-departmental committee to clarify any state interaction with the Magdalene Laundries.
He also believed to have agreed to encourage the religious orders involved to meet face-to-face with JFM, something also suggested by Cardinal Seán Brady.
This appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Wednesday, July 13, 2011
THE Government will today discuss the fourth major report into clerical child sexual abuse when Justice Minister Alan Shatter presents horrific findings from the Cork diocese of Cloyne.
The report's findings are expected to be even graver than in Dublin and Ferns.
Last night sources indicated that the Cabinet will approve the 400-page report of the Murphy Commission of Inquiry, and order its immediate publication tomorrow.
Preparations were last night being made to allow victims and the media to read in advance the detailed 26 chapters of abuse complaints against 19 priests over a 13-year period from January 1 1996 to 2009.
"An hour has been allocated for a pre-publication read ahead of a news conference which Mr Shatter is planning to hold at midday," a source said last night.
The report is said to be damning of former Bishop John Magee's failures to implement agreed child protection procedures.But it likely to highlight the failure of the gardai and health services in dealing with a number of abuse complaints.
THE FIVE-VOLUME Ryan report into child abuse in residential institutions run by 18 religious congregations in the State, which took ten years to complete, has produced some deeply disappointing responses since its publication in 2009.
To date no one has faced prosecution arising out of the contents of the report. The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has ruled out prosecution in eight of the 11 abuse case files that he has received, while decisions are still awaited in the remainder. Just as disappointing, and much less explicable, has been the tardy response of the religious congregations to paying their share of compensation costs and reparation payments to victims of clerical sexual abuse who once were in their care.
The Ryan report recommended that the congregations concerned should pay half the total redress costs for the abuse victims – or some €680 million – with the taxpayer contributing the remainder. But so far the payment offered by the congregations has fallen well short of the required amount. Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn last weekend again put the shortfall at “several hundred million” euro, insisting it was not his intention to bankrupt the orders, only that they should contribute their fair share. But despite the State’s call on the congregations to increase their offers, the Minister has said “only two out of the 18 congregations have replied positively”. None of the rest, it seems, have done so.
Mr Quinn has now sought a meeting with the congregations while the Government has indicated it will adopt a much tougher negotiating stance, and will press the congregations to transfer ownership of schools to the State to make up the shortfall in their 50 per cent contribution to the €1.36 billion overall cost of the redress bill.
However, a decision by some religious congregations to move ownership of their schools into trusts in recent years may well have complicated matters. Three years ago, ownership of Christian Brothers and Presentation schools was transferred to the Edmund Rice Trust. Mr Quinn has said that he is “not confident” the State will manage to recoup the full amount now owing by the religious congregations. However, the congregations in accepting the Ryan report also accepted one of its key recommendations: that they should pay half the cost of the redress bill for victims of abuse. They cannot now repudiate an undertaking given two years ago. Certainly they cannot do so with either honour or credibility when the State, while struggling to avoid insolvency, meets its obligations in this regard.
Without doubt, for the victims of abuse in these institutions, the lack of prosecutions arising from the Ryan report has been a major disappointment. The explanation may well be a combination of factors: the passage of time since the offences took place, the lack of evidence and of witnesses. Most probably these are the main reasons why the DPP has been reluctant to prosecute, and for which he is not obliged to offer a public explanation. Unlike the religious congregations, for whom failure to keep their word, and meet their financial obligations, will only serve to compound their original sin.
For anyone who has followed the shameful saga of the religious orders, the state and the bill for abuse compensation, last week’s news that the orders still owe the state hundreds of millions of euro was hardly surprising.
The response of those Catholic religious Orders whose members were guilty of physical and sexual abuse of children entrusted to their care by the state has been characterised by denial of responsibility, legal obstruction and interminable delay.
Following the publication of the Ryan report in 2009, the religious orders said they would augment the niggardly contribution they had made to the huge compensation bill for their members’ misdeeds.
Last week, we learned that little progress has been made in the past two years.
Few properties have been transferred; others offered by the orders are of little real value; a huge cash shortfall remains. It is time that this government did what its predecessors failed to do. It must judge the orders on their deeds, not their words, and it must take steps to recover the debt owing to the taxpayers.
It is no surprise that many of the properties which were to be transferred from the ownership of the religious orders are, in fact, worth a great deal less than previously suggested.
This newspaper has repeatedly warned as much since the deal with the orders was made public in 2002.
Many of them have no real value. So we are back to square one: the religious orders owe the taxpayers an enormous amount of money.
What are they going to do about it? It is worth reminding ourselves of some features of this sorry, sordid tale.
The abuse was carried out and covered up by men and women of God, to whom the state had sent young boys and girls for care and, in some cases, correction.
When the appalling tales of abuse came to light, the state undertook that survivors should be compensated financially.
The religious orders - not all of them, but 18, including most notably the Christian Brothers - downplayed their own responsibility, legally and morally.
The government led by Bertie Ahern agreed a secret deal with the orders to cap their contribution to a compensation fund. Most of the orders’ contribution was to be made in property transfers.
Many of those property transfers have not happened, or turned out to be worthless.
The state has paid out €1.3 billion in compensation and costs to the victims.
Despite repeated promises, the orders’ contribution has been, in the face of such an enormous bill, if not negligible, then not far off it. Two years ago, after Ryan, the orders agreed to pay more, or transfer more of their assets.
The period since has seen little real progress. Several hundred million is still owing.
Unfortunately, the orders’ behaviour until now in this matter means that their word cannot be trusted.
The state must carry out its own audit of the value of the 18 orders’ assets. This can be done with their agreement and consent, or the state can go to court to recover debts in the normal way.
The audit should concentrate not on the schools and hospitals which, though nominally owned by the religious or their trusts, would generate little real benefit for the state.
The education minister, Ruairí Quinn, has sought the transfer of school buildings to reduce the debt.
This is of limited usefulness. The state has been funding and maintaining many of these buildings anyway, and the orders have withdrawn from frontline involvement in most schools In the past decade, many orders have disposed of lands and property of very great value; the amount of development on former religious lands is testament to that.
But the property portfolios of the orders are hardly exhausted. Perhaps it is true that, as some orders say, they have little left to give. Let’s see.
Ó Caoláin calls for independent international audit of assets of religious orders
June 11, 2009
Speaking in the Dáil debate on the Ryan Report, Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has called for the establishment of an independent international audit of the assets of the religious orders responsible for systematic child abuse. He also called for the Government to act urgently to protect vulnerable children today.
Deputy Ó Caoláin said:
“The Ryan Report exposes a regime of fear that ruled on the dark side of Irish society for most of the 20th century. Because of the courage of the survivors in speaking out we have known for a long time of the horror of what went on in these institutions. But the Report of the Commission gives for the first time a widespread view of the full extent of that regime, based, as the Report is, on the direct testimony of the victims.
“The Government should now initiate an independent international audit of all the assets of the culpable religious orders. This must include assets held abroad as well as their assets in Ireland. The bottom line is that whatever it takes to make recompense to the victims should be provided out of the assets of the culpable organisations.
“The Government has to accept that the previous agreement was flawed and that it too has a moral obligation to ensure justice for the victims. The documents released yesterday to RTÉ demonstrate once more the disgraceful nature of that agreement and why it must be scrapped and replaced.
“The whole issue of prosecutions of offenders must be addressed. Where prosecutions can still be taken they must be taken and justice must be done.
“The Government must act urgently to protect vulnerable children today. The woefully inadequate state of our child protection services has been repeatedly exposed. There are insufficient social workers and other front-line workers and support systems in place. The HSE knows of cases where children are in grave danger but the services are not in place to make the interventions required. The nightmare of child abuse is not a thing of the past. It is happening every day. Most of this abuse takes place in the family home. If the services are not in place then the State today will be just as culpable as it was in the past when it conspired with the Church to cover up the abuse of children.
“I can only describe as grossly irresponsible the refusal of the Government to implement the first recommendation of the Monageer Inquiry which was to establish an out-of-hours social work care service. That Report and its recommendations should be published in full, under Dáil privilege if necessary. The Ryan Report documents a system of cover-up and secrecy. That should not be replicated in any way, especially in the Government’s handling of a report such as Monageer which has grave implications for the safety and welfare of children today.
“Finally, the separation of Church and State must be completed. We must move to a democratically controlled education system, truly representative of the community, respecting the rights of people of all religions and none and totally child-centred.” ENDS
FULL TEXT FOLLOWS:
I want to begin by reading into the Dáil record the text of the petition presented yesterday by thousands of people who marched to Leinster House, victims and survivors of abuse and members of the public who stood in solidarity with them:
“We the people of Ireland join in solidarity and call for Justice, Accountability, Restitution and Repatriation for the unimaginable crimes committed against the children of our country by religious orders in 216 and more Institutions.”
The Report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse is probably the greatest ever indictment of the powerful and the privileged in Church and State in Ireland. Religious orders, the Catholic Church hierarchy, successive Governments and the Department of Education stand indicted for the torture and murder of children and for conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. The crimes were compounded by the cover-ups and it has taken the survivors many long and painful years to expose the truth and to achieve the recognition they deserve.
The lives of children were destroyed in institutions run mainly by Catholic religious orders. The crimes included general neglect, deprivation of adequate food and clothing, denial of the right to education, forced labour for the profit of the institutions, emotional and physical abuse, sexual assault and murder. The survivors were left with a lifelong legacy of physical and psychological damage that condemned many of them to early graves and that tortures the survivors to this day.
This was a regime of fear that ruled on the dark side of Irish society for most of the 20th century.
Because of the courage of the survivors in speaking out we have known for a long time of the horror of what went on in these institutions. But the Report of the Commission gives for the first time a widespread view of the full extent of that regime, based, as the Report is, on the direct testimony of the victims.
The Confidential Committee of the Commission heard evidence from 1090 men and women who reported being abused as children in these institutions. Abuse was reported to the Committee in relation to 216 school and residential settings including Industrial and Reformatory Schools, Children’s Homes, hospitals, national and secondary schools, day and residential special needs schools, foster care and a small number of other residential institutions, including laundries and hostels. 791 witnesses reported abuse in Industrial and Reformatory Schools and 259 witnesses reported abuse in a range of other institutions.
More than 90% of witnesses who spoke to the Commission reported that they had been physically abused. They were beaten, kicked, flogged, scalded with hot water, held under water and burned. Many beatings were carried out in public in order to humiliate. Physical assaults were often carried out randomly and without pretext, creating a terror in children who never knew when they might be assaulted.
Half of the witnesses reported being sexually abused. On this key point the Report states:
“The secret nature of sexual abuse was repeatedly emphasised as facilitating its occurrence. Witnesses reported being sexually abused by religious and lay staff in the schools and institutions and by co-residents and others, including professionals, both within and external to the institutions. They also reported being sexually abused by members of the general public, including volunteer workers, visitors, work placement employers, foster parents, and others who had unsupervised contact with residents in the course of everyday activities.
“Witnesses reported being sexually abused when they were taken away for excursions, holidays or to work for others. Some witnesses who disclosed sexual abuse were subjected to severe reproach by those who had responsibility for their care and protection. Female witnesses in particular described, at times, being told they were responsible for the sexual abuse they experienced, by both their abuser and those to whom they disclosed abuse.”
The Report is damning in the extreme of the role of the Department of Education. It was charged with ultimate responsibiltiy for the children. It carried out too few inspections, was aware that abuse was taking place but did little or nothing about it and, in the words of the Report, the Department “made no attempt to impose changes that would have improved the lot of the detained children. Indeed, it never thought about changing the system”.
The Department’s Secretary General, at a public hearing, told the Investigation Committee that the Department had shown a “very significant deference” towards the religious congregations.
The State, in the form of the Department, and the religious orders were in fact working hand in glove in this system of terror. Out of taxpayers’ money the Department paid a capitation grant to these institutions for each child they detained within their walls. This created a strong incentive for the orders to push for more children to be put in their so-called ‘care’. The larger institutions, in particular, could thus accumulate large sums of money which were spent on enriching the orders who ran them rather than improving the lot of the children whom they held in their virtual prisons.
And who were these children? They were predominantly the children of the poor. Because their parent or parents or other family members were deemed not to be able to look after them the children were effectively incarcerated by the courts. The State abdicated its responsibility to the children and handed them over to the religious orders.
This was a society where women and children were second-class citizens. Absolute power was in the hands of men in authority and absolute power corrupted absolutely.
This was also a conspiracy of the powerful against the powerless. People were afraid to speak out because to defy the Church was to face social death. And the poor were the least well equipped to stand up to the Church.
In May of last year I raised as a matter on the adjournment the case of the late Michael Flanagan, whose arm was broken by a Christian Brother in Artane Industrial School in 1954. His brother Kevin is still fighting for full information about what exactly happened and why, in particular, their mother was only allowed to see her son eight days after the assault was inflicted. This was a horrific example of what went on in those institutions.
Michael Flanagan was only 14. A Christian Brother used a brush handle to break his arm. The boy was locked in a shed at the back of the school for two and a half days. The Christian Brother responsible was not prosecuted nor expelled from the Order. The Order admitted to the Commission in 2005 that this criminal had simply been moved from Artane to another school. After release from Artane Michael Flanagan emigrated to England. He was unable to read or write because Artane was a ‘school’ in name only. His health never recovered from Artane and he died aged 59. His brother Kevin was asked by the Commission to seek the information from them through a solicitor. This he did but he has still not received the information he requests. These issues still need to be resolved.
But last May was not the first time the fate of Michael Flanagan was raised on the adjournment in the Dáil. It was raised by Independent Deputy Peadar Cowan, formerly of Clann na Poblachta, on 23 April 1954, a few days after the assault occurred. It is very instructive to read the exchange between Deputy Cowan and the Minister for Education Seán Moylan. Deputy Cowan seemed genuinely shocked and surprised that such an incident should have taken place. He said he had been a subscriber to the funds of Artane and that he had seen the boys “week after week passing my house, looking exceptionally fit, well clothed and happy”. He said he was satisfied that this was an isolated incident.
The official reply was delivered by Education Minister Seán Moylan. It is an extraordinary exhibition of the wilful blindness of the Minister and his Department in the face of the crimes being committed against children for whom they were responsible.
Taking up Deputy Cowan’s description the Minister went further and said this was an isolated incident and “in one sense what might be called an accident”.Remember, this was a 14-year-old boy having his arm broken by a Christian Brother wielding the handle of a sweeping brush. The Minister continued to describe the assault as an accident and said accidents will happen “in the best regulated families”. Then comes the most extraordinary statement which speaks volumes:
“I cannot conceive any deliberate ill-treatment of boys by a community motivated by the ideals of its founder. I cannot conceive any sadism emanating from men who were trained to a life of sacrifice and of austerity.”
The Minister also attempted to excuse the assault by saying that many of the boys were sent to Artane “because of the difficulties of their character and because of a good deal of unruliness of conduct”.
The Ryan Report covers the case of Michael Flanagan and found that the congregation falsely claimed that the Brother responsible for the assault had been transferred from Artane as a result of the complaint and their investigation of it. In fact the Brother himself had requested to be transferred. The Report says the action of the Brothers suggests there was a policy of concealing damaging information. The infirmary record wrongly described the injury to the boy’s arm as a result of an accident, a chilling echo of what was said in the Dáil by the Minister for Education.
The Minister claimed that there was a constant system of inspection of such institutions and that “nothing of the like will happen again”.
The Ryan Report has confirmed what was known for a long time that the inspections were too few and too limited in scope. It concludes, most damningly, that Department of Education officials were aware that abuse occurred in the schools, that the education was inadequate and that the industrial training was out-dated. As a result the Minister’s promise of 1954 that it would never happen again was broken day and night for many more years afterwards in institutions throughout the State.
When the victims finally began to be widely heard in the media in the 1990s the State was compelled to accept its responsibility. Taoiseach Bertie Ahern issued an apology and a redress scheme and commission of inquiry was established. But even then the “deference” towards the religious orders was far from dead.
The deal negotiated with the religious orders by Education Minister Michael Woods, on behalf of Bertie Ahern and the Fianna Fáil/PD Government, was fundamentally flawed. The religious orders’ contribution to the compensation scheme was capped while the State’s was unlimited. That deal has now become totally discredited and the whole issue has been blown wide open again by the Commission Report.
Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has attempted to defend the deal and has described its critics as “anti-Church people”. This is an insult to the victims and to all those who see this flawed deal for what it is. But the former Taoiseach’s intervention has made little impact, such is the public anger at what was done and such is the support for the victims’ demand for justice.
Firstly all the recommendations of the Commission Report should be implemented. These recommendations focus on alleviating the effects of abuse on those who suffered in the past and preventing abuse of children in care today.
But the Government needs to go further. It must address the need for truth and justice and recompense for those abused in institutions, both residential and non-residential, not covered by the Ryan Report. This includes the Magdalen laundries and institutions established after 1970. Justice must be done for former residents of Finglas Children’s Centre, Scoil Ard Mhuire in Lusk, Trinity House, Trudder House and Madonna House. In the case of Trudder House, where many Traveller children were abused, there was one successful criminal prosecution. In the case of Madonna House, there was one prosecution and an inadequate investigation but no proper support for the victims. A former civil servant who worked in the Department of Education tried to blow the whistle on one of these institutions but was ignored.
There needs to be full accountability and restitution from the religious orders. They need to fully accept their moral obligation to the victims. It beggars belief that up to a few days before the publication of the Ryan Report the Christian Brothers were still sending letters, written in a legal formula, to the Residential Institutions Redress Board refusing to accept that children were abused in their institutions. The letter “totally rejects any allegations of systematic abuse”.
Of course what the Ryan Report clearly demonstrates is that abuse was systematic. It was happening throughout the system and the structures of the system were used to protect the abusers. If that is not systematic then what is?
After these letters emerged in the media last week the Christian Brothers stated that their response had been “shamefully inadequate and hurtful” and that since the publication of the Ryan Report the Order had accepted its culpability. One survivor spoke for many when he said that the Christian Brothers had only apologised after the publication of the Ryan Report because of the strength of public opinion.
The Government should now initiate an independent international audit of all the assets of the culpable religious orders. This must include assets held abroad as well as their assets in Ireland. It has been claimed that many of these assets are lands and buildings currently used for educational and healthcare purposes. A full and open audit will test the veracity of that claim. The vast majority of hospitals, nursing homes, schools and other institutions in the ownership of religious orders or of Catholic dioceses are funded by the State in any case. The bottom line is that whatever it takes to make recompense to the victims should be provided out of the assets of the culpable organisations.
The Government has to accept that the previous agreement was flawed and that it too has a moral obligation to ensure justice for the victims. The documents released yesterday to RTÉ demonstrate once more the disgraceful nature of that agreement and why it must be scrapped and replaced.
The whole issue of prosecutions of offenders must be addressed. Where prosecutions can still be taken they must be taken and justice must be done.
The Government must act urgently to protect vulnerable children today. The woefully inadequate state of our child protection services has been repeatedly exposed. There are insufficient social workers and other front-line workers and support systems in place. The HSE knows of cases where children are in grave danger but the services are not in place to make the interventions required. The nightmare of child abuse is not a thing of the past. It is happening every day. Most of this abuse takes place in the family home. If the services are not in place then the State today will be just as culpable as it was in the past when it conspired with the Church to cover up the abuse of children.
I can only describe as grossly irresponsible the refusal of the Government to implement the first recommendation of the Monageer Inquiry which was to establish an out-of-hours social work care service. A proper system must be put in place. And it is disgraceful that key recommendations of the Monageer Inquiry Report have been censored by the Government. That Report and its recommendations should be published in full, under Dáil privilege if necessary. The Ryan Report documents a system of cover-up and secrecy. That should not be replicated in any way, especially in the Government’s handling of a report such as Monageer which has grave implications for the safety and welfare of children today.
Finally, the separation of Church and State must be completed. In the 26 Counties today the State pays for education through capitation grants, teachers’ salaries and a range of other funding. But the vast majority of primary and secondary schools are not under democratic control. They are predominantly under the patronage of Catholic bishops and in the ownership of the Catholic Church. It is a legacy of the old era of ecclesiastical power and control. This must change and we must move to a democratically controlled education system, truly representative of the community, respecting the rights of people of all religions and none and totally child-centred.
ON RTÉ RADIO 1’s This Week programme last Sunday Minister for Justice Alan Shatter told Gavin Jennings that the Cloyne report would go before the Cabinet on Tuesday, July 12th, and be published “very shortly thereafter”.
The Cloyne report was presented to the former minister, Dermot Ahern, on December 23rd last year and the Murphy commission (or, to give it its full title, the Commission of Investigation, Dublin Archdiocese, Catholic Diocese of Cloyne) was wound up the following week.
So why the delay, of almost seven months, in bringing the report before Cabinet? It was received initially by a government that was keenly aware of being in its death throes and was seemingly paralysed by this fact. There was also the complication that one of the 19 priests investigated by the Murphy commission in Cloyne has been appearing before the courts on child-abuse charges, meaning that, for legal reasons, some details of his case cannot be disclosed.
The present Government inherited this situation when it took office on March 9th. On April 8th the report was brought before the president of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, who decided that parts of chapter nine, which deal with the priest referred to above, should not be published pending the outcome of proceedings in his case.
Since then there has been much confusion. Lawyers for the priest and lawyers for the State could not agree on how to interpret the judge’s decision as to which parts of chapter nine should not be published. There was speculation at different times that the lawyers were returning to the High Court to secure a definitive decision from Mr Justice Kearns, or that the lawyers had agreed the changes to chapter nine among themselves and publication would follow within days, or that the lawyers had decided to await the outcome of the priest’s court appearances. It went on.
The result was what Shatter described last Sunday as a delay in publication due to “a long-drawn-out process of consultation involving lawyers who had an interest in the matter”.
What we do know about the Cloyne report is that it contains 26 chapters and is about 400 pages long, and that it includes findings on all 19 of the priests who faced abuse allegations there over the 13-year period investigated. That period stretched from January 1st, 1996, when the Catholic Church in Ireland first introduced child-protection guidelines, to February 1st, 2009.
The genesis of the report was a direction by the government in January 2009 that the remit of the Murphy commission, then investigating the Dublin archdiocese, be extended to include the Cloyne diocese. This decision followed the previous month’s publication of a report on the Cloyne diocesan website that found child-protection practices there to be “inadequate and in some respects dangerous”. The report was the result of an investigation by the Catholic Church’s child-protection watchdog, the National Board for Safeguarding Children, in 2008. The board’s findings were shocking, not least because they illustrated a reckless attitude to child protection on the part of the then bishop of Cloyne, John Magee, who has since resigned.
The investigation found that Magee, who had been bishop of Cloyne since 1987, allowed the Catholic Church’s guidelines on child protection to be ignored in his diocese despite being party to their introduction in 1996 and to their updating in 2000 and 2005. It also found that the diocesan policy when allegations arose was to provide minimal information to the gardaí and the health authorities. In instances where it did provide information to the civil authorities the diocese named the victim but not the priest alleged to have carried out the abuse.
According to the church’s watchdog, Magee’s diocese “failed to act effectively to limit the access to children by individuals against whom credible allegations of child sexual abuse had been made”. The board’s report stated that, following allegations against a priest, meetings of Cloyne’s child-protection management committee were “apparently focused on the needs of the accused priest”. There was “no documentary evidence that the risk to vulnerable children was discussed or considered at any time”, it said.
When the church published its report on December 19th, 2008, Alan Shatter, then Fine Gael’s spokesman on children, described it as “a damning indictment of the failure on the part of church authorities to implement essential child-protection procedures”. It was, he added, “incomprehensible that 10 years after publication of the Children First child-protection guidelines and after two decades of revelations of clerical sexual abuse, there remains at the highest levels a pervasive culture of cover-up and secrecy”.
Prior to the publication of the revelations in the report, Cloyne’s Case Management Advisory Committee on child protection threatened the board with legal action. In a letter to the watchdog, the committee said: “We shall have no choice but to seek remedies in either ecclesiastical or secular courts, or both.”
Two of the letter’s 10 signatories are likely to feature significantly in the Cloyne report. They are Msgr Denis O’Callaghan, who was bishop Magee’s child-protection delegate in Cloyne at the time, and the solicitor Diarmaid Ó Catháin. In February 2008 Ó Catháin was the solicitor for Cardinal Desmond Connell when he attempted in the High Court to prevent Diarmuid Martin, his successor as Archbishop of Dublin, handing over documents to the Murphy commission. At the time the commission was investigating the handling of clerical child sex abuse allegations against a sample 46 priests in the Dublin archdiocese. It published its Dublin report in November 2009.
Cardinal Connell was persuaded to drop his High Court action following intervention by the Catholic primate, Cardinal Seán Brady. The documents were handed over.
I AM reliably informed that the reason the Government will not allow former residents of the Protestant evangelical Bethany Home to apply for redress is because the coffers are bare.
It was for the same reason that Magdalene laundry residents were excluded (and still are) from the Redress Scheme. However, because the UN Committee on Torture found recently that the State was culpable in the treatment of these women, Senator Martin McAleese has been charged with discovering what we already know (though doubtless he will find out more and that is to be welcomed). Hopes have been raised that he will provide a just outcome that the Government will accept.
That still leaves the mainly Protestant former residents of the Bethany Home. Why can Senator McAleese not look at that issue too?
219 Bethany children are buried in unmarked graves in Mount Jerome cemetery. Almost two thirds are there because the state’s deputy chief medical adviser recorded in 1939 that it was ‘well known’ that ‘illegitimate children are delicate’, before going on to attend a meeting at which Roman Catholics were excluded. Protestants and Catholic children could die in equal number, but separately, according to this bureaucrat and son of the Bishop of Killaloe.
Clearly, the dead children are of as little import now as when consigned to their final resting place. Dead children can’t talk, while those who survived are as illegitimate today in their efforts as the day they were born. Why not let the senator at it? Is it, to paraphrase Ali G, ‘because they is Protestants’? I did not think so while Bethany residents waited with Magdalene counterparts and while, historically, Protestant and Catholic women and children were treated equally badly. But equal dissatisfaction turns now into unequal treatment. It is a surprising allegation to make, considering the faces around the cabinet table, but the Irish State is guilty today of discrimination against Protestants.
Faculty Head Journalism & Media
This appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Saturday, July 09,
A priest who is suing RTÉ for defamation has failed in a court attempt to shorten the time allowed for RTÉ to prepare their defence.
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High Court - Plaintiff seeks urgent resolution of case
A 65-year-old priest who is suing RTÉ over allegations in a recent Primetime Investigates documentary has failed to secure a High Court order to shorten the time allowed for the broadcaster to file a defence to his defamation claim.
The High Court was told that RTÉ is making arrangments for a paternity test to support claims in the programme that the priest fathered a child with an underage girl in Africa in 1982.
Lawyers for Fr Kevin Reynolds has said that there was a unique urgency about the case in that the now 65-year-old priest has had to step down from his ministry in a Galway parish and leave his home because of 'false allegations' made in the programme.
However, Mr Justice Sean Ryan ruled that there was no reason the usual time allowed to file a defence in a defamation case should be shortened.
Fairness and equity is the pathway to closure for abuse survivors and orders involved, writes Education Minister Ruairi Quinn
a d v e r t i s e m e n t
FAIRNESS and equity is a central pillar of this national Government. This is our approach when dealing with all of the difficult decisions and challenges that this country faces. This is also the approach that we have adopted with regard to costs of the response to residential institutional child abuse.
This was one of the darkest chapters in our young state’s history. Horrendous abuse took place in institutions which were meant to care for and protect our most vulnerable citizens, our children. The 18 congregations involved, and the state, failed in their duty of care, and many thousands of people have been left badly damaged and traumatised by their experiences.
The Ryan Report spelt out the scale of the abuse that took place. Following on from its report, Labour and Fine Gael called for the costs of redress to be shared equally between the state and the religious. This view was adopted by the then government in 2010. It was, and it remains, the fair thing to do.
The final cost of the response to residential institutional child abuse is estimated to be in the region of €1.36 billion. However, the offers from the 18 congregations to date have fallen far short of the approximately €680 million needed to meet half of these costs.
Under the 2002 Indemnity Agreement signed by then minister Michael Woods and then taoiseach Bertie Ahern, the religious agreed to provide €128m in cash, property and counselling services.
After the publication of the Ryan Report in 2009, they proposed a further contribution of €348.5m, of which 235m was in property. Of the property offers, only 12 have been identified as of potential immediate benefit to the state. The value of these properties, based on the orders’ own valuation, is €60m.
In April 2010, the then government called on the orders to augment their offers, as they still fell some €200m short of the 50:50 share of costs. Unfortunately, as I confirmed this week, only two congregations replied positively to this call. None of the other congregations have supplemented their original offer. Again, this is disappointing. It means their offers to date fall several hundred million, approximately €375m, short of the target 50:50 contribution.
Let me be clear about this: If the congregations do not meet their fair share, it is the taxpayer who will have shouldered the burden at a time when the perilous state of the country’s finances mean we have to make cuts to services elsewhere.
But, this does not mean that I and the Department of Education and Skills will engage in a witch-hunt of the congregations, or "send in the bailiffs" as it has been erroneously reported elsewhere. Rather, we want to engage with the congregations and see what solutions we can come up with.
One idea the Government has put forward is to seek the orders’ agreement to a legal mechanism that would allow the title to educational infrastructure to be transferred to the state for the benefit of the taxpayer and that the title of any of the education infrastructure owned by congregations would not be altered without the state’s agreement.
I realise there are complex legal issues surrounding such a transfer, particularly in relation to educational infrastructure which may already have been transferred into trusts by the religious.
But, with an open mind and a willingness to address the issues, I believe it can be done.
This approach affords the congregations involved the opportunity to shoulder their share of the costs of responding to the wrongs suffered by children in their care, while recognising the legitimate legacy of their contribution to Irish education.
The religious orders have made an enormous contribution to the lives of so many people in this republic especially through the educational system and this can never be taken from them. I myself am a beneficiary of such an education and I both cherish and respect that.
Therefore, it is not a question of extracting money from the congregations, but rather a question of them paying their fair share alongside the taxpayer towards the costs of the response to residential institutional abuse. I have put forward the transfer of educational infrastructure as one such mechanism, but I am open to hearing others from the religious congregations themselves and I look forward to meeting with them shortly in order to progress this.
We must close this shameful chapter, while never forgetting the pain and suffering endured by the former residents who were abused while in these institutions. We need closure for thousands of survivors of abuse, but also for the congregations which proved so negligent during this time. To do so, I believe the 18 congregations must show willing-ness to admit their wrongs and pay their fair share. That is only right.
This appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Friday, July 08, 2011
ANALYSIS: Foot-dragging on the part of church authorities in contributing to redress costs for people abused in institutions run by them is reflected in those authorities’ lack of co-operation with their own internal audit of child protection practices
THE DISCLOSURE to The Irish Times last week that some Catholic bishops were still refusing to co-operate with the church’s own audit into child protection practices in its dioceses and institutions will have come as no surprise. That their reasons for doing so centre on concerns they say they have over whether they can co-operate, under data protection legislation, just don’t wash. They can co-operate, and this was made clear to them several times in 2010 alone.
Three times last year, Data Protection Commission officials met Catholic Church representatives to outline how they could co-operate with the audit of their own child protection watchdog, the National Board for Safeguarding Children (NBSC), without contravening any law.
This applied also to the other duties the church has requested the board to undertake in monitoring child safeguarding practices in its dioceses and institutions.
Yet, following their summer meeting last month, the bishops issued a statement on June 16th, saying, with regard to the board monitoring role, that lack of progress therein was “due to difficulties in the implementation of civil law in relation to data protection. Data protection difficulties are real; they were not fabricated or invented to prevent progress”.
They continued: “To address the complex data protection issues that exist, bishops ask Government to take the necessary measures so that the national board can fulfil its full remit in terms of receiving and sharing information with church bodies, as it was established to do in the first place.”
But neither the Government nor legislation is preventing progress with the bishops’ own audit.
It is the bishops themselves.
Even if the bishops are suggesting, as a collective and in a roundabout way, that the Government use compellability legislation to “encourage’’ more reluctant colleagues to co-operate with their own audit, such legislation is already on the statute books.
It is there since the Commission of Investigation Act was passed in 2004. The bishops know this.
Are they, therefore, being disingenuous?
As this newspaper reported last Thursday, a spokesman for the office of the Data Protection Commissioner said that last November, legal concerns expressed by the Catholic Church regarding its co-operation with the board “were fully addressed to the satisfaction of all parties”.
That took place at a meeting attended by representatives of the bishops, the Conference of Religious of Ireland (Cori), the Irish Missionary Union, and representatives of the board.
It was pointed out then by officials at the Data Protection Commissioner’s office “that there are no obstacles” to the board “having full access to all relevant personal data for the purpose of comprehensive audits of the church bodies concerned”.
It was the third such meeting to take place last year alone.
There was another on September 17th last, when data protection officials met separately with the board and Faoiseamh, a counselling service set up by Cori, to discuss data protection issues, and yet another in February 2010.
At both those latter meetings too, church representatives were assured “that there are no obstacles” to the board “having full access to all relevant personal data for the purpose of comprehensive audits of the church bodies concerned”.
How much more assurance does the Catholic Church need before it can agree to co-operate with its own audit and the other duties its has given its own watchdog?
And, after all those meetings and all that assurance, how in heaven’s name can the bishops say, as they did in their statement of June 16th last, that “data protection difficulties are real; they were not fabricated or invented to prevent progress”?
There are other reasons why such a statement is to be doubted.
This current troublesome audit was announced by the bishops on January 23rd, 2009, at an emergency meeting they held following disclosure that child protection practices in Cloyne diocese were “inadequate and in some respects dangerous”.
That disclosure was made by the board in a report published on the Cloyne website a month previously, in December 2008.
It led to the State extending the remit of the Murphy commission to include Cloyne diocese. Its report on Cloyne may be published next week.That was the context in which the bishops commissioned the current audit by the board.
Yet, three weeks beforehand, on January 2th, 2009, a Department of Children spokesman told this newspaper that all the Catholic bishops had refused to complete a Health Service Executive child protection audit because of their data protection concerns.
Section 5 of that audit questionnaire sought from the bishops statistical information on complaints and allegations against clergy of child sexual abuse.
It also sought to discover whether these allegations had reported to the civil authorities. It sought no names or other details.
The bishops felt they could not fill in the answers for legal reasons.
The impression given by the bishops three weeks later, on January 23rd, in announcing their own audit, was, as reported in this newspaper on January 24th, 2009, “that a way may have been found around the insurmountable difficulties which had prevented them and the religious congregations heretofore from completing Section 5 of the HSE audit questionnaire”.
JUST seven of the 200 religious-run schools worth over €1 million each have been offered as part of contributions to the abuse compensation fund, it has emerged.
Figures compiled by the Irish Examiner also show none of the 46 schools worth over €5m each are on the table as part of the talks between the Government and the 18 religious orders named in the Ryan Report.
Nineteen of the more lucrative school sites are worth a combined €301m, including the Sisters of Mercy secondary school campus at Ballyroan in south-west Dublin, which has a price tag of €33.5m.
Some 15 of this order’s schools were worth in excess of €10m when its assets were assessed in mid-2009.
To date, the 18 orders have offered just 12 schools worth €18m to the state — all bar one are from the Sisters of Mercy.
The Sisters of St Clare has offered a €275,000 former primary school in Cavan.
Education Minister Ruairí Quinn told the orders their offers do not go far enough to meeting the cost of the €1.3 billion redress bill.
He said, because of the lack of offers and the unsuitability of certain properties, the religious congregations needed to find over €300m in additional cash and property.
Mr Quinn proposed that much of the gap could be bridged if the orders involved in education were willing to sign over schools to the legal ownership of the state.
This was described as a compromise that would see the orders give what is perceived to be their fair share without eating into the funds they need to care for ageing members.
Asset reports supplied to the Irish Examiner under the Freedom of Information Act show the vast amount of educational assets held by these orders did not feature in redress offers made to the state.
Instead, the orders opted to establish separate charitable trusts and transfer the bulk of their school properties to these new companies.
A spokesman for the Sisters of Mercy said it would not comment while the engagement with the minister was ongoing.
In 2010 it made an additional redress offer of €127m, which included €20m in cash.
This appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Thursday, July 07, 2011
The controversy over the amount of money the religious orders should pay to indemnify the state for compensation in relation to the abuse highlighted in the Ryan Report has no more to do with the tenets of faith or religion than the actual abuse had anything to do with religion.
What happened was an obscene contradiction and perversion of Christianity. It should be clearly recognised that it was all the worse because it was done in the name of Christianity. That is why it is so important that the whole issue should be cleared up.
There has been too much prevarication already. Good, idealistic people in the Church have been betrayed by their own administrators being more concerned with covering up the abuse, rather than dealing with the problems properly.
The cover-ups were undertaken without regard either for those who had been so vilely abused, or the outrageous way in which other totally innocent people were being exposed. Such behaviour exhibited a blend of greed, stupidity and criminal indifference.
In many cases, such as in the Magdalene Laundries, those being abused were effectively enslaved, and the religious orders perpetrating the abuses were enriched on the backs of their unfortunate victims. This was a gross injustice and must be recompensed. Nobody is suggesting those orders should now be impoverished but they — not the taxpayers — should compensate those who were so shamelessly exploited and abused.
The four orders who ran the Magdalene Laundries — Sisters of Mercy, Good Shepherd Sisters, Sisters of Our Lady of Charity and the Sisters of Charity — made over €296 million in property deals during the last decade. Those and the other 14 orders named in the Ryan Report made €667m from their property deals during the same period. Those various orders still hold over €3.1 billion worth of property and they have more that €700m in financial assets, so there is no financial insecurity.
Most of the property the religious orders offered to hand over has been educational, health and sporting facilities, while the bulk of the €219m worth of development and agricultural land has been excluded. Education Minister Ruairi Quinn has rightly insisted that the religious orders’ offers for meeting the cost of the €1.3bn redress bill are not sufficient. He proposed that much of the gap could be filled if the orders involved in education were willing to sign over schools to the legal ownership of the state.
In the last analysis, the real problem is not so much about money as it is a continuing failure of religious orders to accept responsibility for what was done. They must do that to put the whole thing behind them for once and for all.
This appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Thursday, July 07, 2011
A hearing into whether the church has the same legal obligations towards priests as employers towards employees, could have massive ramifications, writes Victoria Macdonald.
The Roman Catholic Church is taking the unprecedented step of arguing in court that is is not responsible for sexual abuse committed by its priests, arguing that the relationship between a Catholic priest and the bishop of the local diocese is not an employment relationship and therefore the diocese does not have vicarious liability.
There have been thousands of accusations around the world of abuse by priests but the majority of legal cases have been settled out of court or withdrawn. This is thought to be the first time that the Church has gone to court to defend itself against accusations specificially relating to liability.
The three day hearing, starting today, is part of a wider civil action being brought by a woman known only as Miss JGE. She claims to have been sexually abused while living in a children's home run an order of nuns, the English Province of Our Lady of Charity.
She alleges that she was sexually abused by a priest of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portsmouth, Father Baldwin, who died in 2006. The claim in that case, due to start in December, will be that the nuns were negligent and in breach of duty, and that the diocese was vicariously liable for the abuse because Father Baldwin was a Catholic priest engaged within the work of the Portsmouth diocese.
However the hearing this week will not deal with the allegations of abuse at all, but will centre on the 'corporate responsibility' of the church in abuse cases.
If the claim is upheld, the church will be found legally responsible for the sexual abuse committed by their priests.
The solicitor representing Miss JGE, Tracey Emmott, said: "The most astonishing point to me to emerge from this tragic and sordid case is that the Catholic church is claiming that it isn't legally responsible for the behaviour of its own priest.
"We need to show that while Father Baldwin wasn't strictly an employee of the church, he was acting on the bishop's behalf and that the bishop clearly had a degree of control over his activities."
Ms Emmott said that the consequences of the Catholic Church winning the point was that they would be able to avoid compensating all victims of sexual abuse by priests.
THE Government will call in bailiffs to collect a €375m compensation shortfall from 16 Catholic religious orders responsible for horrific child abuse in industrial schools.
The threat came after it emerged that only two of 18 orders have agreed to cover half the €1.36bn bill to taxpayers for clerical child abuse payouts.
In a clear warning of the Government's intent to recoup state payouts, Education Minister Ruairi Quinn yesterday intensified the pressure on the orders to sign up to new laws allowing the State to seize assets.
Mr Quinn said he wanted congregations to agree to allow the State to identify assets and property such as schools, nursing homes, playing fields and land and legally take possession of them.
There would be blocking orders on transferring titles without prior consent of the Government, he said.
Mr Quinn added that this approach would afford the congregations the opportunity to shoulder their share of the cost of responding to abuse of children in their care.
Mr Quinn said he was disappointed at the low level of offers made since the 2009 Ryan report revealed the shocking scale of decades-long sexual, physical and psychological abuse of the most vulnerable in residential institutions.
"The congregations' total offers fall well short, by several hundred million, of the €680m contribution they should bear towards the cost of institutional residential child abuse," said Mr Quinn.
"In April, I called on the orders to consider handing over appropriate school infrastructure as a way to make progress towards the 50-50 target contribution. I reiterate that call now," he said
In a statement, Mr Quinn said that only a quarter of their total property offers were of current interest to the State. The value of those 12 properties, based on the congregations' own valuations, amounted to roughly €60m, he added.
The full list of property offered includes 49 Christian Brothers' playing fields; the Presentation Sisters' St Bernard's Group Home, Fethard, Co Tipperary; the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity childcare facility at Gracepark Road, Drumcondra, Dublin; and the Sisters of St Clare primary school, Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan.
The stand-off dates back to 2002 when Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and Education Minister Michael Woods signed a controversial indemnity deal placing a ceiling of €128m on the amount to be paid by the orders.
In 2009 this was increased when the orders offered to contribute an additional €100m which was judged by the Government still to be inadequate.
In April 2010, to meet a shortfall of €200m, Taoiseach Brian Cowen and Education Minister Batt O'Keeffe told the orders to raise their offer to €375m in line with the Ryan recommendation of a 50-50 division.
THE academic leading the Justice for Magdalene group said he believed an apology from the Government was imminent and that statutory pensions should then be provided to "hundreds" of survivors.
James Smith, associate professor at Boston College, spoke yesterday, a day after presenting findings on state complicity in the Magdalene Laundries to Justice Minister Alan Shatter.
It is understood some survivors attended yesterday’s presentation at UCD’s Humanities Institute.
Using research garnered from a number of sources, Prof Smith outlined how the state was, at various points in the past century, aware that young girls and women were being detained illegally at the laundries but did not inform the residents.
Prof Smith said that, in the event of an apology being offered by the Government, some survivors would still not come forward because of the stigma.
"That does not mean that an apology would not be meaningful."
He was, however, optimistic the Government would issue an apology, possibly around the time of the interim report into the findings made by JFM in its document Justice for Magdalenes: Narrative of State Interaction with the Magdalene Laundries.
It looks at the interaction between the laundries and numerous government departments, made a number of findings and raised more questions.
The research showed that, in 1936, the then government knew there was no statutory basis for the provision of courts to send women to the laundries.
Prof Smith also said the research indicated past governments knew the women were entitled to leave the laundries but never told them.
"The state turned a blind eye to the fact there was never a statutory basis [for it]."
Likewise, gardaí often brought women to the laundries or returned them if they tried to escape, when there was no basis for it.
The Kennedy Report of 1970 looking at the Department of Education’s role suggested many voluntary committals were "haphazard" and led to women staying for indefinite periods when they should have been dealt with through the reformatory system.
A letter sent to one survivor just this year apologises to the woman as there was only one record of her stay at the Good Shepherd Sisters in Waterford, even though records seemed to show she had been transferred there from a mother-and-baby home.
As for the work carried out at the laundries, for which no fair wages were paid, proof was found that as recently as 1982 work contracts from the Department of Defence were being issued to the laundries, although under the Factories Act 1955 these should have been treated as factories — meaning there should have been an entitlement to a statutory pension.
According to Prof Smith the laundries were never made to comply. He said he understood there were "hundreds, but not thousands" of surviving women who are now entitled to a state pension as a result, but that an apology was needed first.
A similar presentation was made later yesterday to the Oireachtas Committee dealing with the Magdalene Laundries.
This appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Wednesday, July 06, 2011
RELIGIOUS orders have been told to either pay another €200 million towards the cost of compensating the victims of child abuse or sign over schools to public ownership.
Education Minister Ruairi Quinn wrote to the orders to demand showdown talks and said he was disappointed with their contribution.
The orders have offered €348m worth of land and cash on top of the €128m they paid as part of the 2002 indemnity deal.
However, Mr Quinn said this falls well short of the €680m target, half of the overall €1.3 billion compensation bill for the victims of abuse.
Mr Quinn claimed that of the €235m in property offered by the orders already, just €60m was deemed to be suitable.
The orders have committed to give another €100m in cash but just €20.6m has been given so far.
Mr Quinn said that if the congregations did not have the cash to make up the shortfall, they should sign over legal ownership of school buildings to the state.
"There is a very big gap between the €680m which would be their fair share and what is on the table at the present time," he said.
This week, the Irish Examiner revealed the 18 orders named in the Ryan Report made €667m from property deals between in 1999 and 2009.
They kept hold of €3.1bn worth of land and more than €700m in financial assets.
Today, we reveal 12 of the 18 orders still owned a portfolio of development and agricultural land worth €219m when the Ryan Report was published in May 2009.
Mr Quinn said he did not know how much of the financial resources from land sales were available to the orders today.
However, if they did not have the cash to hand over, they should be prepared to transfer school properties, he said.
The latest land asset details show the vast bulk of the €219m development and agricultural portfolio was not included in properties offered to the state in the revised redress negotiations.
Instead, the congregations largely suggested signing over educational, health and sporting facilities.
Mr Quinn said that, following an end of political discussion in April 2010, just two of the 18 orders have made additional offers to the redress scheme and the rest needed to come back with substantial additional offers.
"Despite the state’s call for the congregations to supplement their original offers, only two out of the 18 congregations have replied positively to make up a shortfall of some €200 million," he said.
"One congregation has offered to give €1m towards the costs of the national children’s hospital and to refund some or all of its legal costs, while another offered to transfer a former primary school.
"None of the other congregations have supplemented their original offers."
Reacting to the developments, many of the religious orders said they had nothing to add, as the process was ongoing.
Provincial of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, William Fitzpatrick, said his order was happy to meet Mr Quinn to discuss the contributions to the Government.
This appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Wednesday, July 06, 2011
THE Government is to proceed with legislation to establish a statutory fund with the power to arrange and grant-aid a range of services to support victims of residential institutional abuse.
The Residential Institutions Statutory Fund will be funded by the €110 million in cash offered to it by religious congregations by way of compensation to those abused in their care.
It follows extensive consultations with survivors of residential abuse and a public consultation process.
The seven-member fund will be run by a chief executive answerable to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and will fall within the scope of the Ombudsman and Freedom of Information legislation.
Announcing the measure yesterday, Education and Skills Minister Ruairi Quinn said more than 13,000 former residents who have received awards from the Residential Institutions Redress Board will be eligible to apply for support from the fund.
"Some former residents advocate a simple distribution of the available money," he said.
"However, I believe that the fund should target resources at services to support former residents’ needs, such as counselling, psychological support services and mental health services, health and personal social services, educational services and housing services."
To date, contributions of €20.6m have been received towards the statutory fund. These and the remaining contributions to be received will be invested in an investment account to be established by the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA).
The fund will take over the functions of the Education Finance Board for abuse survivors, which will be dissolved. As responsibility for information for survivors will also be taken on by the fund, funding of survivor groups by the Department of Education will cease.
The fund will have the power to hold and dispose of land or an interest in land, and may acquire, hold and dispose of any other property. Two of its members will be former residents of institutions.
Under the proposed legislation, anyone who knowingly makes a false statement or produces a false document for the purposes of obtaining assistance from the fund will be guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine of up to €1,500 or imprisonment for up to 6 months, or both. If convicted on indictment, the fine imposed can be up to €13,000 or imprisonment for up to 3 years, or both.
This appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Wednesday, July 06, 2011
JUST €20.6 million of the €348.5m promised by 16 of the 18 religious congregations in the wake of the Ryan Report has been paid to date.
The Rosminian and Good Shepherd congregations said they had nothing more to contribute in addition to what they paid in 2002, as part of the €128m package agreed with all 18 congregations under the indemnity agreement.
Following the publication of the Ryan Report, 16 of the 18 Congregations offered additional contributions which they valued at €348.51m and which included various property transfer proposals, valued at €235.51m, to different state bodies and voluntary organisations.
One congregation offered 16 properties to the proposed statutory fund to support the victims of residential institutional abuse.
However, just €20.6m of this figure has been handed over, while just 12 of the properties are deemed to be of immediate potential benefit to the state.
The overall value of these properties amounts to just €60m based on the €235.51m in property valuations from the congregations. The other property offers were not considered to be of immediate interest to the state.
In relation to the offers of property to the voluntary sector, only one of the 16 properties was deemed of benefit to the state.
The remaining properties therefore cannot count as part of the contribution.
The offers of property include 49 Christian Brothers’ playing fields; St Bernard’s Group Home in Fethard, Tipperary from the Presentation Sisters; a childcare facility at Gracepark Road, in Drumcondra Dublin and the Sisters of St Clare primary school in Ballyjamesduff, Cavan, from the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity.
The Sisters of Mercy offered several schools: St Joseph’s VEC College, Carrick on Suir; the Adult Education Centre, Waterford; land at Convent Road, Cahir; Seamount Convent and College, Kinvara, Galway; Scoil Mhuire Secondary and Mercy Primary School, Ennistymon, Clare; and the Old Primary School and Hall, Trim, Meath.
The order also put forward the McAuley Centre, Kells, Meath; Beaumont Convalescent Home and grounds, north Dublin; 33 acres at the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dún Laoghaire; and St Anne’s Lenaboy Castle, Taylor’s Hill, Galway.
Only two of the 18 religious congregations responded to a call last April to improve on previous contributions in order to bridge a €200m shortfall in the compensation they are required to pay.
One congregation, the Presentation Brothers, offered to provide €1m toward the costs of the national children’s hospital and to refund some or all of its legal costs. The Sisters of St Clare have offered to transfer a former primary school.
The remaining congregations have made no additional offers to the Government.
This appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Wednesday, July 06, 2011
THE offers by religious congregations to meet their half of a €1.36 billion compensation bill for victims of child sex abuse have so far fallen "well short" of what they are required to pay.
Education Minister Ruairí Quinn expressed his disappointment that only two of the 18 congregations have responded to a call last April to improve on previous contributions of €476.5 million in order to bridge a compensation shortfall of over €200m.
"Despite the state’s call for the congregations to supplement their original offers, only two out of the 18 congregations have replied positively to make up a shortfall of some €200m. One congregation has offered to give €1m towards the costs of the national children’s hospital and to refund some or all of its legal costs, while another offered to transfer a former primary school. None of the other congregations have supplemented their original offers," he said.
The Government, as well as the Ryan Report in 2009, said the €1.36bn compensation bill should be shared on a 50:50 basis between the taxpayer and those congregations responsible for managing the institutions where the horrendous child abuse took place.
Under the 2002 Indemnity Agreement, the 18 congregations involved agreed to a contribution of €128m, comprising cash, property and counselling services.
After the 2009 publication of the Ryan Report, they proposed putting up over €100m in cash and offered to transfer property, that they valued at €235.5m, to various state agencies and voluntary organisations.
Responding to these proposals, Mr Quinn said acknowledged some progress had been made, but expressed disappointment at the offers to date.
"Of the properties offered to the state, only 12 have been identified as of potential immediate benefit to the state and these will be pursued. In fact, only a quarter of the total property offers made to date by the congregations are of current interest to the state.
"The value of these 12 properties, based on the congregations’ own valuations, is approximately €60m."
Mr Quinn said he would ask the congregations to agree to allow the state to identify various properties and legally take possession of them. He also intends to create a legal mechanisms to ensure that title on properties can not be transferred without the prior consent of the Department of Education.
Congregations are also to be asked to transfer properties of specific interest to or currently leased by the state.
"I believe that this approach affords the congregations involved the opportunity to shoulder their share of the costs of responding to the horrendous wrongs suffered by children in their care, while at the same time, recognising the legitimate legacy of their contribution to Irish education," said Mr Quinn.
The Government is also to proceed with a €110m trust to fund the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund to support the victims of institutional abuse.
This appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Wednesday, July 06, 2011
THE CHRISTIAN Brothers have offered the biggest contribution to date to meeting the compensation bill for clerical child sex abuse claims, according to figures released yesterday by the Department of Education.
Amounting to € 161 million, the Christian Brothers’ offer comprises cash of €30 million and counselling services of € 4 million and also includes 49 school playing fields and associated lands which the Catholic Church values at €127 million.
The church has proposed the lands would be transferred to a joint trust between the Edmund Rice Schools Trust and the Government.
The next highest amount of the 18 religious congregations comes from the Sisters of Mercy. Amounting to € 127.5 million, the sum includes cash of € 20 million and school properties in Tipperary, Waterford, Clare, Galway, Cork, Mayo, Longford and Meath, some of which would be transferred to Vocational Education Committees and others to the State. The offer also includes four health sector properties and 31 other properties which would be donated either to the statutory fund, the HSE or the voluntary sector.
Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn said he was disappointed at the offers, saying the 18 congregations were several hundred million off the €680 million mark the Government believes should be paid.
The Government is to ask religious congregations named in the Ryan report to transfer ownership of schools to the State to make up a shortfall in its contribution to the €1.36 billion redress bill for victims of clerical sexual abuse.
Properties currently rented to the State will also be sought in lieu of cash or other payments, Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn said yesterday.
The Ryan report, which investigated the abuse of children in institutions run by 18 religious congregations, recommended they pay half the total redress costs, a figure set at about €680 million.
To date the congregations have offered €348.5 million, or roughly a quarter of the redress bill, faced by the taxpayer to compensate victims of abuse and to cover legal costs. This offer fell “well short, by several hundred million” of what the orders should bear “towards the cost of institutional residential child abuse”, the Minister said.
Under the controversial 2002 Indemnity Agreement, the 18 congregations agreed to contribute €128 million, in cash, property and counselling services towards redress costs for abuse victims.
In 2009, following publication of the Ryan report, they proposed contributing just over € 100 million in cash and offered to transfer property, mainly in health and education areas, which they valued at €235.5 million, to the State and voluntary organisations.
Expressing his disappointment at the level of contributions proposed by the congregations, Mr Quinn said that, of those properties which the congregations offered “only 12 have been identified as of potential immediate benefit to the State and these will be pursued”.
Only a quarter of the total property offers made to date by the congregations “are of current interest to the State”, he said, adding “the value of these 12 properties, based on the congregations’ own valuations, is approximately € 60 million.”
He said “despite the State’s call for the congregations to supplement their original offers, only two out of the 18 congregations have replied positively”.
“One congregation has offered to give € 1 million towards the costs of the National Children’s Hospital and to refund some or all of its legal costs, while another offered to transfer a former primary school. None of the other congregations have supplemented their original offers,” he said.
He recalled how last April “I called on the orders to consider handing over appropriate school infrastructure as a way to make progress towards the 50:50 target contribution. I reiterate that call now.”
He added he had written to the congregations “seeking a meeting to discuss their response to date”.
Noting there had been no formal contact by government with the congregations since April 2010, he criticised his ministerial predecessor Mary Coughlan for “the big time lapse” and for “not pursuing it with the vigour required”.
Any transfer of properties to the State may be complicated by a decision by religious congregations to move ownership of schools into trusts in recent years.
In 2008, the Edmund Rice Trust assumed ownership of Christian Brothers and Presentation schools, while the previous year five female religious congregations, including the Sisters of Mercy and Daughters of Charity, transferred more than 100 secondary schools to Catholic Education an Irish Schools Trust.
The Department of Education said Mr Quinn would seek “the congregations’ agreement to a legal mechanism which would ensure that title to school infrastructure properties would be transferred to the State, at the State’s request, and that title to such properties could not be altered, whether by sale on the open market or by transfer into any trust arrangement, without the prior consent of the department”.
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.
This appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Wednesday, July 06, 2011
The Government is to seek the transfer of church owned properties, including schools, to the State to help pay for the redress scheme for survivors of residential child abuse.
The Minister for Education has expressed disappointment at the offers made by the Catholic religious orders.
The Government believes the 18 congregations should pay half of the total bill of €1.36bn.
Speaking on RTÉ's Six-One News, Ruairi Quinn said their offers fell several hundred million euro short of what is needed and he will be seeking €680m from the institutions.
Mr Quinn said the 18 Catholic religious congregations had made a 'fantastic contribution' to education in Ireland.
However, he said if the money could not be realised he would call on the congregations to hand over the legal deeds of some of their properties to the State.
The minister said this approach affords the congregations the opportunity to shoulder their share of the cost of responding to abuse of children in their care.
A number of congregations have responded to the statements by Minister Quinn this evening.
A spokesman for the Oblates Fathers, who ran the Daingean reformatory in Co Offaly, welcomed the fact the minister is moving to set up the long-promised statutory fund to support victims of residential abuse.
He said the Oblates had offered a €20m cash payment for that fund in October 2009 and that money is still available.
A spokesman for the Christian Brothers said it is considering its position carefully in the light of Mr Quinn's statement and other documentation received today from the Department of Education.
A representative for the Sisters of Mercy, the Daughters of Charity and the Sisters of our Lady of Charity said they do not wish to comment at this time as the process is ongoing.
Belfast mayor meets clerical abuse victims
Abuse victims in Northern Ireland have said inquiries into institutional abuse 'should not have stopped at the border'.
Members of the group, Survivors and Victims of Institutional Abuse, were speaking today as they met Belfast Lord Mayor Niall Ó Donnghaile at the site of the former children's home, Nazareth House, on the Ormeau Road.
The group is calling for an independent public inquiry and for the establishment of a redress process.
The group said today's meeting with the Sinn Féin mayor was 'another step on the road to justice'.
Survivor Margaret McGuckin said it was time for past wrongs to be 'put right'.
She said her own experience of Nazareth House 'had been truly awful' and said she had been 'traumatised' by the experience.
Last December, a taskforce was set up by the Executive in a bid to establish whether there is a basis for an inquiry into institutional abuse in Northern Ireland.
It has been consulting with victims' groups and recently reported back its findings.
Amnesty International's Patrick Corrigan said there was a responsibility on the power sharing administration to deliver an inquiry.
He said the issue of institutional abuse has been 'quite rigorously addressed' in the Republic, 'a degree of truth and justice has been delivered' and that a compensation scheme has been put in place.
He said victims in Northern Ireland 'who suffered the same conditions' have received 'very little attention' and said that the government has 'not yet properly responded'.
5th July, 2011 Minister Quinn expresses disappointment at level of contributions offered by religious congregations to meet costs of residential institutional child abuse and seeks meetings
The Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn T.D., is announcing how the government plans to progress issues raised in the follow up to the Ryan Report. The following matters are being addressed:
Contributions towards the costs of the Response to Redress by the 18 religious congregations
The Statutory Fund
The future of the Redress Board
The Memorial Committee
Contributions Towards the Costs of the Response to Redress
The final cost of the response to residential institutional child abuse is estimated to be in the region of €1.36 billion. The Government believes that this cost should be shared on a 50:50 basis, between the taxpayer and those responsible for managing the institutions where horrendous child abuse took place.
However, the offers from the religious congregations to date have fallen far short of the amount needed. Under the 2002 Indemnity Agreement, the 18 congregations involved agreed to provide a contribution of €128 million, comprising cash, property and counselling services.
In 2009, they proposed putting up just over €100 million in cash and offered to transfer property, mainly in the health and education sectors, that they valued at €235.5 million, to various State agencies and voluntary organisations.
Responding to these proposals, Minister Quinn acknowledged some progress had been made, but expressed his disappointment at the offers to date.
“Of the properties offered to the State, only 12 have been identified as of potential immediate benefit to the State and these will be pursued. In fact, only a quarter of the total property offers made to date by the congregations are of current interest to the State. The value of these 12 properties, based on the congregations’ own valuations, is approximately €60 million,” said Minister Quinn.
Minister Quinn also followed up on the call in April 2010 by the last government for the religious congregations to augment their original contribution of €348.5 million in order to meet half of the costs of the response to residential institutional child abuse. He has written to them seeking a meeting to discuss their response to date.
“Despite the State’s call for the congregations to supplement their original offers, only two out of the 18 congregations have replied positively to make up a shortfall of some €200 million. One congregation has offered to give €1 million towards the costs of the National Children’s Hospital and to refund some or all of its legal costs, while another offered to transfer a former primary school. None of the other congregations have supplemented their original offers,” said Minister Quinn.
“The congregations’ total offers fall well short, by several hundred million, of the €680 million contribution they should bear towards the cost of institutional residential child abuse. In April, I called on the orders to consider handing over appropriate school infrastructure as a way to make progress towards the 50:50 target contribution. I reiterate that call now.”
With the Government’s approval, Minister Quinn proposes to seek the congregations’ agreement to a legal mechanism which would ensure that title to school infrastructure properties would be transferred to the State, at the State’s request, and that title to such properties could not be altered, whether by sale on the open market or by transfer into any Trust arrangement, without the prior consent of the Department.
In addition, the Government is requesting the congregations to offer to transfer their properties that are currently rented by the State and properties that are identified as being of specific interest to the State. This overall approach will aim to ensure that if the State were to seek the transfer of any of the school infrastructure owned by the congregations, it could then do so.
Commenting on this proposal, the Minister noted “I recognise that there are complex legal issues to be addressed to realise the transfer of school infrastructure. Nevertheless I believe that this approach affords the congregations involved the opportunity to shoulder their share of the costs of responding to the horrendous wrongs suffered by children in their care, while at the same time, recognising the legitimate legacy of their contribution to Irish education.”
The management bodies of other institutions included within the Redress Scheme have also been approached to make a contribution towards the costs involved and their potential to similarly transfer school infrastructure will be explored.
The Government is to proceed with legislation to establish a Residential Institutions Statutory Fund, to support the victims of residential institutional abuse, as endorsed by the Dáil in the aftermath of the Ryan Report. This follows extensive consultations with survivors of residential abuse and the groups which support them, together with a public consultation process.
Some €110 million, essentially the cash portion of the offers from the congregations, will be used to fund the trust. Announcing the measure, Minister Quinn said, “Over 13,000 former residents who have received awards from the Residential Institutions Redress Board will be eligible to apply for support from the Fund and every effort is being made to minimise the administration involved. Some former residents advocate a simple distribution of the available money. However, I believe that the Fund should target resources at services to support former residents’ needs, such as counselling, psychological support services and mental health services, health and personal social services, educational services and housing services.”
To date, contributions of €20.6m have been received towards the Statutory Fund. These and the remaining contributions to be received will be invested in an investment account to be established by the National Treasury Management Agency.
The Education Finance Board will be dissolved and the Statutory Fund will assume its functions to disburse the remaining moneys. As responsibility for information for survivors will also be taken on by the Statutory Fund, funding of survivor groups by the Department of Education will cease.
The Residential Institutions Redress Board will be wound down. The Board was set-up in 2002 to provide fair and reasonable financial awards to victims of institutional childhood abuse. The original closing date for receipt of applications under the Redress Scheme was December, 2005, although the Board can accept late applications in exceptional circumstances.
As it is now almost six years since the original closing date and as it is necessary to remove the Board’s power to consider late applications in order to wind-up the Redress Board, the Government has approved the drafting of amending legislation. The Minister expects to enact the necessary legislation to remove the Board’s power to consider late applications received after 16th September 2011. The Minister thanked the Redress Board and its chair, Judge Esmond Smyth, for their work to date.
The Memorial Committee appointed to oversee the erection of a memorial to victims of institutional abuse, as recommended in the Ryan Report, has reported to the Minister on its work to date. This involved a public consultation process and meetings with survivor groups and other interested parties. The Minister has approved the Committee’s proposal to advance to the competition stage for the Memorial and the Committee will now seek expressions of interest.
Minister Quinn will shortly be meeting with groups representing survivors of residential institutional abuse and representatives of the religious congregations in relation to the measures announced today.
Note for Editors:
Please see below link to the contribution offers from congregations:
Under the 2002 Indemnity Agreement, 18 congregations are providing a contribution of €128m comprising cash, property and counselling services. The realisation of this contribution is being pursued and while the completion of the legal arrangements in the case of 24 properties remains outstanding, the physical transfers of these properties have taken place.
In response to the call for them to make further substantial additional contributions following the publication of the Ryan Report, 16 of the 18 Congregations offered additional contributions which they valued at €348.51m and which included various property transfer proposals, valued at €235.51m, to different State bodies and voluntary organisations. One congregation offered 16 properties to the Statutory Fund.
The property offers to the State have now been considered and 12 of these have been identified to be of immediate potential benefit to the State. The Government has agreed that these property offers be pursued, subject to suitability, valuation and good and marketable title being established. The overall aggregate value of these properties amounts to some €60m of the overall €235.51m property valuations from the congregations. The other property offers were not considered to be of immediate interest to the State.
The State has already decided to utilise €110m, essentially the cash element of the congregations’ offers to establish a Statutory Fund to support the needs of survivors of residential institutional child abuse. Accordingly, the government is requesting that these properties be sold and the proceeds provided to the State. In relation to the offers of property to the voluntary sector, only one of the 16 properties the religious offered has been deemed of benefit to the State, and therefore the Government cannot count the other property offers as part of the contribution towards the response to residential institutional abuse.
In 2010, recognising the potential shortfall of over €200m to reach the 50% share of some €680m, the previous Government called on the congregations to augment their offers so as to realise the 50:50 objective.
Since then, one congregation has offered to provide €1m towards the costs of the National Children’s Hospital and to refund some or all of its legal costs, while another has offered to transfer a former primary school. The remaining congregations have made no additional offers to the government.
Redress Board: In 2010, the then Government considered a range of demands for the Redress Scheme to be extended and for awards to be reviewed and decided not to revise the arrangements.. By the end of May 2011, the Board had processed 14,592 of the 15,135 applications received. It had made 13,669 awards with an overall average award of €62,875. The Board had 543 applications to finalise and 567 late applications to consider accepting. The overall cost of the Redress Scheme is expected to be some €1.1 billion of the €1.36 billion total cost of the response to residential institutional child abuse and actual expenditure exceeded €1 billion at the end of 2010.
A report on the consultation process and the General Scheme of the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Bill are available on the website of the Department of Education and Skills.
LAND surrounding a former mass grave at the largest Magdalene Laundry was quietly sold by the order of nuns who ran it for €61.8 million during the boom.
The Justice For Magdalenes group (JFM) said the €296m made in property deals during the boom by the four orders who ran the laundries must form part of the conversation on redress.
The Magdalene Laundry site at High Park, Drumcondra, was the second most lucrative deal involving 18 religious orders responsible for abusing children in residential homes. In total, the 18 orders made €667m in property deals between 1999 and 2009.
When the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity first sold a £1.5m tract from the same High Park campus in the early 1990s, construction workers found a grave where 133 women were buried.
In 2009, the order told the Department of the Taoiseach it had sold two more parcels of land on the same High Park site.
The larger sale was made in 2006 when Barina Construction paid €55m for a 2.7-hectare green area inside the compound.
Six years earlier, a site that housed the laundry’s Martana House was transferred for €6.68m.
When it supplied the sales data to the Department of the Taoiseach, the order asked that the information would not be circulated beyond the committee charged with examining the assets of religious congregations.
The order also informed the department it had agreed to swap its second, and smaller, Magdalene Laundry at Sean McDermott Street with Dublin City Council.
As part of the exchange, the council supplied it with a free 20-year lease for a purpose-built hostel and a new convent.
Neither Barina Construction, Dublin City Council or the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity were in a position to comment on the deals.
Yesterday, JFM and other representatives of the Magdalene survivors met with Mr Shatter for over two hours to discuss the inquiry into alleged torture.
The laundries were run by the Sisters of Mercy, the Good Shepherd Sisters, the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity and the Sisters of Charity.
JFM group spokesman Jim Smith said they were assured all departmental records would be made available to the new committee, chaired by Senator Martin McAleese.
Mr Smith also welcomed assurances the inquiry would be cleared to investigate cases where the state was complicit by failing to act as well as incidents where it paid directly for services.
Reacting to revelations in the Irish Examiner, Education Minister Ruairí Quinn said he was reopening negotiations with the congregations involved.
He said if they were not willing to provide an additional €200m towards the redress compensation, he would have to make unwelcome cuts elsewhere in the education budget.
Sir, – The refusal of Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn to allow Bethany Home residents access to the State’s redress scheme is insupportable (Breaking News, June 22nd). So too is the refusal by the Minister for Justice to allow Senator Martin McAleese to include it in his review of the State’s relationship to the Magdalene laundries.
The institutions are comparable in being denied access to the redress scheme. The Justice for Magadalenes advocacy group supports Bethany’s inclusion within Senator McAleese’s remit.
Former residents would have to show that the State was responsible for neglect, illness and death in order to become eligible for redress.
We are confident that we can show that the State neglected its duty of regulatory care in the Bethany Home. The State ignored internal and external warnings about conditions in the home. Its only substantive response in 1939 was to state that it was “well known” that illegitimate children were “delicate” and to force the home to stop admitting Roman Catholics. The State evenly regulated the sectarianism inherent within the welfare system, but not the actual welfare of residents of religiously run institutions.
It is singularly appropriate that Senator McAleese should be allowed to examine the Bethany case, given his sterling work in the peace process in Northern Ireland and given that many former Bethany residents either started from or ended up in Northern Ireland. Considerable amounts of money were raised in Northern Ireland, very little of which was spent on the indented recipients, poor Protestant orphans in Southern Ireland. I’m sure those who gave generously would like to know how the money was actually spent (as would I) and I’m sure Senator McAleese would be assiduous in finding out, if he was allowed.
What is the Government afraid of, the truth? It is time to evenly regulate redress for the victims of Ireland’s State-sanctioned sectarian welfare system. – Yours, etc,
The Government has said it is "not confident" it will be able to recoup from the church half the cost of the State's €1.36 billion compensation bill to settle clerical child sex abuse claims.
Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn said today he would shortly re-enter formal negotiations with the religious orders to review how they could meet the Government's target of paying half the liability.
Asked if he was confident the 16 religious orders named in the Ryan Report on clerical child sex abuse would be able to pay the €680 million liability, Mr Quinn said he wasn't.
"I'm not confident because I simply don't know what the situation is at the present time and I'm not in a situation to make any forecast as to what possible contribution there might be," he said.
"Negotiations were effectively suspended for the last year-and-a-half or so in a formal sense, although there has been ongoing contact. But it has been my intention to resume negotiations as soon as possible," said Mr Quinn.
Since the Ryan Report was published in May 2009 the religious orders, who ran the residential institutions were children suffered abuse, have agreed to pay €476 million in compensation.
Last April the Department of Education confirmed that it was to ask the congregations to hand over title to property worth €200 million to bring their share of the compensation to half of the total liability.
Mr Quinn is due to make an announcement tomorrow on proposals made by the religious congregations since April to hand over property, which includes schools and other educational establishments, will meet the shortfall.
Mr Quinn said today the cost of the redress board should be borne 50/50 by the State and the religious congregations.
"I'm going to enter into these discussions with an open mind. This is about recouping for the distressed Irish taxpayer a vast amount of money. The alternative is we have to reduce further expenditure and introduce savings in areas that we otherwise would not want to do," he said.
A group representing survivors of the Magdalene laundries has presented a report to the Government alleging widespread State involvement with the notorious institutions.
The Justice for Magdalenes study accuses seven Government departments of being complicit in keeping the Catholic Church institutions running.
The body held a two-hour meeting with Minister for Justice Alan Shatter and Kathleen Lynch, Minister of State at the departments of Justice and Health, over the planned inquiry headed up by newly appointed Senator Martin McAleese.
Report author Prof James Smith of Boston College said survivors hope the details will help move the inquiry forward. “By no means are we saying that it is comprehensive or complete, but it does document State interaction, what we might call complicity across seven government departments,” he said.
Prof Smith met Mr Shatter and Ms Lynch as part of a delegation from Justice for Magdalenes. He said the 50-page report, supported by more than 400 pages of appendices, said they have evidence of complicity by the departments concerned with justice, education, health, local government, social protection, defence, jobs, enterprise and innovation and finance.
It alleges that over decades women given suspended sentences were sent to the workhouses, while the Department of Defence allegedly contracted the laundries for the Army for around 40 years.
Mr McAleese was appointed by Mr Shatter to head up a committee to clarify any State interaction with the notorious workhouses.
Justice for Magdalenes spokeswoman Claire McGettrick said the meeting with Mr Shatter and Ms Lynch was the first step in the process. “Nothing was decided, nothing was agreed upon. It was just laying the foundations,” she said.
The four Catholic religious orders - the Sisters of Mercy, the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity, the Sisters of Charity, and the Good Shepherd Sisters - have agreed to co-operate with any inquiry.
The last laundry, at Sean MacDermott Street in Dublin, closed in 1996.
The UN Committee Against Torture said it was gravely concerned by the failure of the state to “protect girls and women who were involuntarily confined between 1922 and 1996 in the Magdalene Laundries”. It said it let the women down by not regulating the operations and inspecting them.
It also expressed concern at what it deemed the failure of the State to undertake a prompt and thorough investigation into the allegations of mistreatment.
The body recommended the State carry out prompt, independent and thorough investigations into the allegations of torture, and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
DESPITE offloading over €670 million worth of land during the property boom, the religious orders at the centre of the redress re-negotiations retained €3.1 billion in property assets.
Even after two years of slumping property prices, the portfolios of the 18 congregations showed a substantial asset base when they were assessed in mid-2009. Many of these sites continue to raise revenue by selling services to the state.
Three of the four orders that ran the notorious Magdalene laundries have earned €86m from the Heath Service Executive in the past five years.
The review of the congregations’ assets was done after €127m had already been paid out to the survivors of abuse in residential homes. The review did not include the transfer of hundreds of millions of euro to religious-run trusts.
And it also came following a 10-year period in which an ageing and dwindling number of nuns and brothers in 17 of these orders made €676m from selling property to a frenzied market.
Education Minister Ruairi Quinn is now demanding the orders sign over €200m worth of school property so their overall contribution for compensation to abuse survivors hits €680m. The orders have so far committed to delivering €476.51m, including a cash sum of €110m towards a statutory fund for survivors of residential abuse.
The renewed deal was formulated on the basis of a review of the orders’ assets that was delivered to the Government in 2009. This involved the orders engaging valuers and consultants to pore over their vast and complex portfolios.
Parts of this were released to the Irish Examiner under the Freedom of Information Act and are reproduced today and tomorrow. These documents show that the Sisters of Mercy — the property sales of which can be seen to the right — is by far the most powerful order in terms of assets and an intriguing case study in its interaction with the state so far.
Of the orders, it made the most amount of money during the boom and diversified widely in terms of its business. It had the assets to offload at the peak of the bubble and utilised these shrewdly.
In terms of value, 44% of its deals (€72m) were done in 2006 and 2007. However. the number of trades in this period accounted for just 20% of its 195 individual transactions over the 10-year period.
These years were crowned by a €32m trade for 16 acres in Killarney and €18m for a car park at Crofton Road in Dun Laoghaire, next to its former laundry.
The Sisters of Mercy also tried to cut out the middle-man by handling its own development project, but it appears to have been stung by arriving to the market too late. In 2009, it put six houses in its Cois Abhainn development in Athlone up for sale and sold them for between €200,000 and €290,000. However, in 2009, 10 of these were still on the market with a value of €125,000 for the smaller units.
At this time, it was still active elsewhere. Despite the nationwide collapse in values, the order sold land in Castlebar for the unusual sum of €666,666 in the months before its assets were reviewed. In mid-2009 it still had land worth €1bn and financial assets of €182m. This did not include what it owned outside the Republic of Ireland.
So far, it has made a €33m contribution to the original redress scheme. On top of that, it has committed €80m in properties to the state, €15m to the voluntary sector and €31m in cash and property to the former residents of its residential institutions.
The congregation said €998m of its remaining assets were restricted and much of the ownership was in the process of being transferred to other religious entities.
Primary schools worth €256m were earmarked for transfer to the various diocesan authorities and €200m was tied up in housing its 2,088 sisters.
The bulk of its restricted property was made up of a €412m network of secondary schools that were due to be handed over to a Catholic education trust incorporating the Sisters of Mercy, the Presentation Sisters, the Sisters of the Christian Retreat, the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart and the Daughters of Charity. This trust is split into two companies: Ceist Ltd and Educena Ltd. Only three of these congregations were involved in the Redress Scheme.
During the boom, these three redress congregations in Ceist/Educena made a combined €268m from the sale of property.
Despite this, the Sisters of Mercy, the Daughters of Charity and the Presentation Sisters retained assets worth €1.7bn. In 2007, 37 of their schools were transferred to Ceist the Daughters of Charity (1) and the Presentation Sisters (36), which took almost €100m off their balance sheets. The Irish Examiner was unable to ascertain the current value of these sites or the extent of its transfers since 2009.
The most recent set of accounts for Ceist Ltd, the company established to oversee the trust, show that the trust’s assets have been kept separate from its business. Accounts filed with the Companies Office last month show Ceist Ltd was trading, had a turnover of €1.6m, but only had €557,209 worth of tangible assets. On account of its small size, it availed of a legal exemption not to make a detailed cashflow statement public. The Educena Foundation had fixed assets of less than €500.
Both were contacted in advance of this article but did not supply a spokesperson to comment.
This appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Monday, July 04, 2011
THE nuns who made hundreds of millions of euro by selling property during the Celtic Tiger had made plans to use the money.
All the groups concerned represent ageing congregations and have allowed for high costs for caring for these women in the years ahead.
The orders also spent some of the proceeds upgrading their convents, supporting the services they are associated with and compensating those abused in residential homes.
The Sisters of Mercy has proposed donating just under €130 million worth of cash and properties to the redress package. This is in addition to the €33m it signed over under the original indemnity deal and the transfer of a €95m site at the Mater Hospital to allow the HSE to build the National Children’s Hospital.
The order estimated it will require €116m of its reserves to pay for the care of its 2,088 members, of which 75% are older than 65.
Of the €63m worth of trades involving The Religious Sisters of Charity, the bulk related to the €45.3m deal for its land at Merrion in Dublin. By its estimates, it will cost €38m to support the care of its 264 sisters, 181 of whom are over the age of 71.
The Sisters of Charity also transferred €56m worth of properties for no money in the 10 years up to 2009, including a site worth €24m given to St Vincent’s Hospital.
The Presentation Sisters, the 713 members of which had an average age of 74, made €72m from selling assets during the boom.
"The level of disposals was driven by the high-value property market which led to significant offers for land and buildings occupied by the Irish province," a statement said.
"In addition, some of the properties/convents were no longer suitable as a place of residence and it was decided it would be more appropriate to dispose of the property and use the proceeds to invest in new, more suitable, living quarters."
The Daughters of the Heart of Mary had just one significant sale during the 10-year period. This was a plot next to its convent in Dun Laoghaire, which was sold for €7.5m in 2008 It said it was planning to renovate the living quarters for its 14 members at a cost of €2m.
The specific sales figure for The Daughters of Charity was not available in the documents released under the Freedom of Information Act.
However, it said it had sold lands a number of years ago and earmarked €26m from these deals to fund the upgrade of its facilities for residents in its care and services for people with intellectual disabilities.
The Sisters of Nazareth made over €18m by selling sites. The first sale of €2.6m was made when Sligo Borough Council bought its land to build a relief road. The order used €1m of this to fund its contribution to the original Redress Scheme. The rest went towards refurbishing its convent in Sligo to accommodate sisters returning from overseas’ missions.
In 2005, a much larger sale raised €16.3m. This went towards building a 50-bed care home, leased to an operating company for 50 years. The home did not make money in its first two years so the order subsidised the care centre to the tune of €200,000 a year.
The Sisters of St Clare, with 79 members, off-loaded more than €18m worth of land. It also transferred two school sites in Kerry for nominal fees to support local education.
This appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Monday, July 04, 2011
THERE IS already “ample evidence” of the State’s involvement in the Magdalene laundries for these women to at least receive pensions for the years of unpaid work they carried out, a meeting of the Irish Women Survivors Support Network in London heard at the weekend.
Maeve O’Rourke, a lawyer who represented the Justice for Magdalenes group at a recent hearing in Geneva of the United Nations Committee Against Torture, said that, at the very least, time the women worked unpaid should count towards their pensions.
She said the interdepartmental committee set up by the Government to investigate the laundries should also take into account the “unofficial ways in which the State was involved”, for example the return of women to the laundries by the Garda. Aside from evidence that past governments and their agencies used the laundries, there “was a duty on the State to protect every single one of those women and girls”, she said.
“There is now a duty . . . to ensure that every woman who was subjected to torture or cruel treatment in the Magdalene laundries is compensated,” she said.
Michael Keaveney, an official with the Irish Embassy in London, said: “There is a lack of knowledge of what happened in the laundries at official level in Dublin. In terms of stuff written down, there doesn’t appear to be a lot.”
He asked that the network collect the testimony of women who were in the laundries and forward it to the Department of Justice.
He said that an initial report from the interdepartmental committee set up to clarify State interaction with the laundries was to be prepared within three months. It would detail “the scope of what further investigation is required, so it could be a longer process”, he said. “I can’t say how long it is going to take but after the three months we should have a good idea of what the process will be.”
A number of former Magdalenes were present at Saturday’s meeting. One woman broke down as she tried to tell her story. Former Magdalene Ellen Murphy, now living in the greater London area, was in four laundries. “We were slaves,” she said. “It’s time to bring out and explain to people: them places were worse than jail.”
On the RTE Radio 1 programme This Week yesterday, Minister for Justice Alan Shatter agreed that “the State was involved in women being place in the laundries but others were committed without State involvement”. The interdepartmental committee he set up to look at the Magdalene laundries was “the start of a very important process”.
MINISTER FOR Education Ruairí Quinn is to make an announcement within days responding to proposals from 18 religious congregations named in the Ryan report concerning their handing over of properties,including educational facilities.
The Department of Education confirmed last April that it was to ask the congregations to hand over title to properties worth up to € 200 million.
Since publication in May 2009 of the Ryan report, which contains the findings of an investigation into clerical sex abuse of children in religious-run residential institutions, the 18 congregations have agreed to pay €476 million towards the €1.36 billion compensation costs.
As this was € 200 million short of the equal share of the bill to be paid by the State, as recommended in the Ryan report, proposals for the remaining payment were sought from the congregations.
Last April the Department of Education confirmed that it was to ask the congregations to hand over title to property worth up to €200 million.
This week’s planned announcement by Mr Quinn follows Cabinet discussions surrounding the Ryan report in recent weeks
The Department of Education confirmed last April that Mr Quinn was seeking ownership of schools for the State.
He indicated he did not want to bankrupt the religious orders and was not intending to change the structure by which the religious orders were in charge of the schools.
His concern was said to be about the amount of the total compensation bill which would have to be paid by the taxpayer.
The Government is drafting legislation for the establishment of a statutory trust fund intended to fund support services for those who experienced institutional abuse.
A meeting of the Irish Women Survivors’ Support Network in London heard that letters were issued to survivor advocacy groups in Britain on Friday informing them that they will receive funding until the end of the year, by which time it is hoped that the trust fund will be established to provide subsequent funding.
Last month several UN Committee Against Torture members questioned the Government on its failure to implement all the recommendations of the Ryan report, which detailed abuse in residential institutions run by religious congregations.
A written submission to the committee revealed that, two years after the report’s publication, no one has been prosecuted for child abuse in residential institutions detailed in the 2009 report.
Author, playwright and local politician Gerard Mannix Flynn (usually "Mannix Flynn") was in Letterfrack Industrial School in Co Galway, run by the Christian Brothers, in 1968-69. On 22 December 2002 the Sunday Independent published an article by Bridgit McLaughlin, based on an interview with Mr. Flynn. This asserted there there had been a "Holocaust" in Letterfrack with hundreds of bodies buried all over the grounds and also a "top peoples" paedophile ring. The Christian Brothers pointed out that no child had died while Mannix Flynn was resident there and that the last boy to died in Letterfrack was buried in their cemetry in 1942.
In early February 2003 Mannix Flynn was elected a member of Aosdana, a state funded association of creative artists. This was less than two months after the publication of the Sunday Independent article.
On 20 January 2004 John O'Donoghue TD, Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, announced that he had appointed the writer and actor Gerard Mannix Flynn to the Board of the Irish Museum of Modern Art. Announcing the appointment, Minister O'Donoghue said "I am very happy that that Mannix Flynn has accepted my invitation to join the board of the Irish Museum of Modern Art. I value his contribution to the work and art of the 'outsider' and I know that he will make an important contribution to the work of the Museum".
Mannix Flynn was a candidate in the June 2009 local elections in Dublin, and was elected as an independent councillor to Dublin City Council. He unsuccessfully contested the 2011 General Election in the Dublin South East constituency.
A 79-year-old Catholic priest has apologised in court to a former parishioner for the 'torture' of sexual abuse he subjected her to over a number of years.
Paul McGennis had pleaded guilty to eight sample counts of sexual abuse against the young girl in the 1980s.
The abuse began when she was aged ten and continued for a number of years.
The victim said she lived in fear of the priest who threatened that her family would be expelled from the church if she told anyone.
The abuse took place in the priest's house at a Dublin City Centre parish and continued after he moved to another parish in Dublin.
The victim said he would give her sweets and toys in the early days of the abuse.
In later years, he gave her money after having sex. In statements to gardaí, she said the abuse continued because she was a child and was scared.
She said she would run errands for the priest and the abuse began one day when she was late returning from an errand and he 'gave out' to her. It then took place almost every fortnight in the bedroom of the parish house and in a waiting room.
She said she would be admitted to the house by a housekeeper who was often present in the house, although not in the room, while the abuse took place.
Throughout the abuse she would cry and ask him to stop but he continued, she said. She did not tell her family because she thought she would be 'battered' and was afraid to bring shame on them.
She complained to gardaí a number of years ago after receiving counselling following a suicide attempt.
When interviewed by gardaí in 2009, McGennis denied the allegations. He pleaded guilty earlier this year.
At the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court today, McGennis apologised to the victim and her family for the 'stress and torture I have put them through and for the fact that my initial denials must have made it worse'.
In her victim impact statement, the victim said she would serve a sentence until the day she dies because of the abuse.
She said she lived in fear of seeing her abuser who had 'taken away my innocence, my childhood memories, my chance of an education and my prospects for the future.'
It continued to threaten her marriage and denied her the chance to have children, she said. It left her without self esteem or the ability to form and maintain relationships. As a teenager she engaged in destructive behaviour.
Lawyers for Paul McGennis said his remorse and apology were genuine and said he was at low risk of reoffending. They asked the judge to take into account his age and medical condition when considering sentence.
The court was told he now lives at a diocesan centre at Clonliffe College and is living under a direction from the archbishop which governs his ministry and his contact with young people.
He has previous convictions for indecent assault and has served a prison sentence.
He is also co-operating with garda investigation launched as a result of the Murphy Report but Judge Desmond Hogan said that was not related to the current charges.
Judge Desmond Hogan said he needed time to consider the victim impact statement, along with medical and psychological reports submitted by the defence, and adjourned sentence to 29 July next.
The dining hall of the Artane Industrial School in Dublin, in an undated photo. The school was run by the Christian Brothers (CNS photo/Commission to Inquire Into Child Abuse)
The head of the Edmund Rice Christian Brothers has said the order’s future is uncertain because of costly settlements in child abuse cases.
Brother Philip Pinto said that the congregation, which has 1,200 members, “just doesn’t have the money any longer”.
He said that the order’s decision to seek bankruptcy protection in New York was aimed at “trying to ensure that people who have been abused are the ones who get the money, not the lawyers”, he said during a break in a conference on religious life sponsored by the Conference of Religious of Ireland. [At the conference he gave an address entitled "Out of Darkness Colour Breaks" which can be read here.]
Forty per cent of the costs relating to abuse settlements were “going to the lawyers”, he said.
The North American province was especially vulnerable to disappearing, he said, explaining that it would take “something drastic” to save it.
“In most of the developed world, we are paying for the sins of the past,” he said. “Our brothers are aging, our reputation is in tatters, and the future looks bleak, even hopeless. So many of my brothers hide in their monasteries, afraid of drawing attention to themselves.”
The Indian-born brother who has been congregational leader since 2002 blamed a culture in which “religious in Ireland were abused by the system”.
Another conference speaker, Nuala O’Loan, former police ombudsman in Northern Ireland, told attendees that “it wasn’t just the religious congregations” who were responsible for abuse in institutions and schools operated by religious congregations. She suggested that the “congregations have been made the scapegoats for the failures of all”.
She criticised “successive Irish governments” who “allowed the children under their care to be deprived of their safety and security and permitted children to be held in institutions in which terrible things happened”.
The Christian Brothers Institute, the legal arm of the Edmund Rice Christian Brothers, filed for bankruptcy protection in the United States amid mounting abuse claims. The majority of claims relate to the order’s schools in the Seattle area and Newfoundland in Canada.
Pope Benedict has accepted the resignation of an American bishop accused of allowing an alleged paedophile priest from his diocese to flee to Mexico.
Bishop Daniel Walsh of the diocese of Santa Rosa in California resigned under an article in church law invoking a 'grave cause', which has in the past included a failure by the prelate in question to report a suspected paedophile to police.
A statement from the Vatican makes no mention of why Pope Benedict had asked the 73 year-old bishop to resign beyond saying he did so under Canon 401, paragraph 2 of church law.
This states that 'a bishop who has become less able to fulfil his office because of ill health or some other grave cause is earnestly requested to present his resignation from office'.
The controversy around the former bishop dates back to 2006, when Father Xavier Ochoa admitted to him that he had abused young boys.
The police were not told for four days, however, by which time Fr Occhoa had fled to Mexico.
Following a civil case, the diocese was ordered to pay $5m to the three victims, which included $20,000 from Bishop Walsh's own funds.
Bishop Walsh is succeeded by Coadjutor Bishop Robert Vasa who was appointed to the diocese in March with automatic right of succession. Bishop Walsh had asked for the assistance of a coadjutor.