BARRY ROCHE Southern Correspondent
THE GOVERNMENT will seek a substantial increase in compensation from the 18 religious orders named in the Ryan report into child abuse, Minister for Education Batt O’Keeffe said yesterday.
However, Mr O’Keeffe refused to put an exact figure on the amount.
The Minister said that the Government believed that the compensation offered by the religious orders, which was capped at €127 million, and agreed by then minister for education Michael Woods in 2002, was not now enough.
“We’re going in with the frame of mind to the meeting on Thursday with the congregations that the amount of money that they made available is not sufficient and that they will have to make available substantially more money,” he said.
“We do that on the basis that when the original agreement was concluded, it was concluded on the basis that it was intermittent abuse. Now the Ryan report tells us quite clearly that the abuse was endemic.”
Mr O’Keeffe said he had yet to discuss the issue in detail with Taoiseach Brian Cowen but he downplayed suggestions that the Government would be seeking a 50/50 split between the State and the orders for the compensation bill which is expected to cost in excess of €1.2 billion. “There’s no question of any 50/50 because you don’t go into discussions having named a price. Maybe when we get inside the door, we will discuss with them and I think we should do that on a confidential basis with them.”
Meanwhile, children’s rights campaigners Christine Buckley and John Kelly have called for the establishment of an independent body to review all cases before the Residential Institutions Redress Board, writes Brian Kavanagh .
“The awards are just laughable, they are totally unjust. The whole system is unjust. It is behind closed walls, there is a code of silence, and there is punishment if you reveal your award. It is a complete continuation of institutional abuse in another format,” Ms Buckley said.
Mr Kelly, who represents the Survivors of Child Abuse organisation, and Ms Buckley, of the Aislinn Education and Support Centre, met Minister for Children Barry Andrews yesterday to discuss the findings of the Report of the Committee to Inquire into Child Abuse .
Judge Seán Ryan recommended that individuals who previously attended childcare facilities are in a good position to identify deficiencies in the system and should be consulted on how best to confront these failings.
Ms Buckley expressed concern over apparent inconsistencies in payments by the redress board: “If you consider that most of us suffered four types of abuse in those institutions, and that a boy who went to visit his pal in Kilkenny and . . . was raped, and although one rape is too much, nevertheless he got €275,000 plus costs. Now the most that any of our people have got is €200,000, which I think shows the complete and utter disregard and disparity that the redress board has been allowed to do on our people.”