CHARLIE TAYLOR and PATSY McGARRY
Groups representing former residents of institutions run by religious congregations are to meet with Taoiseach Brian Cowen this evening.
There will also be “a silent march of solidarity” with former residents of the institutions in Dublin at noon, from Parnell Square to the Dáil, where wreaths will be laid “in memory of the living and dead” of the institutions.
Among the groups expected to be represented at the meeting with the Taoiseach, which is due to begin at 6pm are members of Right of Place, Right to Peace, Alliance Victims’ Support, SOCA UK, SOCA Ireland, Aislinn, Survivors of Institutional Abuse (SOIA) and the Irish Survivors of Institutions, International groups.
Representatives from 18 congregations which ran the institutions are due to meet with Mr Cowen tomorrow.
The meetings follow the publication of the Ryan report two weeks ago which found that thousands of children suffered physical and sexual abuse over several decades in residential institutions run by religious congregations.
There have been increased calls for the 18 congregations mentioned in the Ryan commission report to fund up to 50 per cent of the controversial 2002 redress deal, the cost of which currently stands at €1.3 billion.
Minister for Education Batt O’Keeffe said yesterday the Government is to seek “a substantial increase” in compensation from the religious orders.
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. However, he refused to put an exact figure on the amount sought be the Government.
Meanwhile, it emerged today that The Christian Brothers continued to deny as recently as May 15th last, five days prior to publication of the Ryan report, that there was any abuse in institutions run by them.
In letters to the Residential Institutions Redress Board, the Brothers repeatedly insisted that no abuse took place.
A report in today’s Irish Times reveals that Br Kevin Mullan of the Christian Brothers insisted in writing recently that the only form of corporal punishment allowed by the congregation was “moderate slapping on the palms of the hands with the approved leather strap . . .”
He also said the congregation “totally rejects any allegations of systemic abuse . . . or that boys were inadequately fed or clothed . . . and vehemently repudiates all unsubstantiated allegations of sexual abuse . . . or that sexual activity or emotional or physical abuse amongst the boys was facilitated by lack of vigilance on the part of the staff.”
In a letter to the Residential Institutions Redress Board, dated May 15th, 2009, the Christian Brothers’ province leader, Br Mullan, was responding to allegations made by a former resident of the O’Brien Institute in Dublin.