Church figures support increased contribution

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Church figures support increased contribution

Members of the public sign the book at the Mansion House today. Photo: Matt Kavanagh/The Irish TimesMembers of the public sign the book at the Mansion House today. Photo: Matt Kavanagh/The Irish Times

ÉANNA Ó CAOLLAÍ

Two senior Catholic figures have said the religious orders should contribute more to the State compensation scheme for victims of abuse.

Special advisor to Cardinal Seán Brady, Father Tim Bartlett, told Radio Ulster this morning that his personal view was that the orders should pay more than the €127 million capped by the 2002 agreement with the State.

Fr Bartlett said those who ran the industrial school system should take responsibility for child abuse. He said the relevant members of the Conference of Religious in Ireland who ran the schools should pay more.

Speaking on the Sunday Sequence programme, Fr Bartlett said the next step for the Church was “genuine repentance”. He said that should include “every dimension of acknowledgement including compensation”. Father Bartlett also said the Church should also ask the question “what more can we do, not what more must we do.”

Bishop of Down and Connor Dr Noel Treanor echoed Father Bartlett’s comments.

“This issue must be openly and transparently examined, discussed with honesty, integrity, and openness, bearing in mind that there is obviously an ethical and moral respon on the part of the church and society to address this issue.”

Dr Treanor told RTÉ’s This Week programme that Fr Bartlett’s view that the Church should pay more to the State compensation scheme was a comment “of integrity of personal honesty inspired by a concern for natural justice for the pursuit of a morally integral resolution of this issue.”

“I salute his courage and I support him in his comment.”

The overall cost of the scheme is expected to surpass €1.3 billion, over nine times the contribution made by the religious orders.

The report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse published this week outlined a horrific litany of physical and sexual abuse against children in institutions run by a number of religious orders over several decades.

The Government has come under renewed pressure from the two main Opposition parties to reopen the 2002 agreement.

Fine Gael and the Labour Party separately said that it was incumbent on the State to ensure the religious congregations pay more.

The former leader of the Labour Party Pat Rabbitte said that if his party was returned to government it would do everything in its power to “probe the validity” of the deal.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said that if he were elected taoiseach he would examine the possibility of reopening negotiations.

On Friday, the Conference of Religious in Ireland (Cori), which negotiated the controversial deal on behalf of 18 congregations, said that none of the orders planned to revisit the deal.

A spokesman for the umbrella body which represents over 80 religious congregations on the island of Ireland, said last night that “as far as we are aware none of the congregations concerned plan to revisit the terms of the agreement made in good faith’’.

The Government will hold a special Cabinet meeting next Tuesday to consider the report and the Dáil will hold a two-day debate on the matter.

There were emotional scenes in Dublin this weekend as members of the public queued to sign a book of solidarity for the victims of abuse.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin and Fine Gael leader were among the thousands of people who arrived to sign the book at the Mansion House.

One woman approached Mr Kenny as he went to sign the book and broke down in tears as she recounted her story of abuse.

Lord Mayor of Dublin Ebhlin Byrne said she had been approached in recent days by members of the public wishing to express their solidarity with those who had fallen victim to sexual and physical abuse in State institutions as children.

Ms Byrne said she had been approached throughout Dublin by people wishing to express their solidarity with the men and women who must this week be finding old wounds reopened and buried pain re-awakened.

The Mansion House reopened to the public at 11am today and will remain open until 4pm today to allow people to express their support

“I invite the people of Dublin to come here over the weekend to show their support for those affected.”

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