Religious orders have paid less than quarter of redress payments to Irish victims of institutional abuse
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Religious orders have paid less than quarter of redress payments to Irish victims of institutional abuse

THE religious orders in charge of Irish institutions have paid less than a quarter in redress to abuse victims, the state auditor has found. 

The audit report was compiled by the Comptroller and Auditor General, an independent constitutional officer with responsibility for the audit of public funds.

The officer reports to Dáil Éireann.

The report found the estimated costs of the child abuse inquiry and redress scheme of €1.5billion have been massively underestimated.

The figure for the commission of inquiry into child abuse currently stands at €82million, and the the redress scheme totally €1.25billion.

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By the end of 2015, awards totalling €970million had been made to 15,579 claimants, with an average award of €62,250 per person.

However, 85 per cent of the awards were at or below a level of €100,000 per person with the highest award made was €300,000.

By December 31, 2015, the Redress Board had approved legal cost payments of €192.9million to 991 legal firms in respect of 15,345 applications.

Outside of the redress scheme, other supports including health, housing, educational and counselling services is estimated at €176million.

Since 2013, the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Board, better known as Caranua, has provided support services to survivors from cash contributed by the religious congregations following the publication of the Ryan Report in 2009.

An indemnity agreement was signed in 2002 between the State and 18 religious congregations, who agreed to contribute to the costs of redress by transferring property, cash and other resources totalling €128million, of which €21million remains to be transferred to the State at the end of 2015.

Government policy was to pursue the sharing of the cost of redress on a 50:50 basis with the religious congregations. This would require the congregations to contribute €760million.

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To date, the congregations have offered the equivalent to about 23 per cent of the overall cost. Contributions received from the congregations up to the end of 2015 represent about 13 per cent of the cost.

Following the publication of the Ryan Report in 2009, the congregations offered additional cash and property valued at €353million.

This combined offer was revised to €226million in September 2015. Six years after the publication of the Ryan report, only €85million (38 per cent) of the €226million offer has been received by the State.

Former minister Ruairí Quinn, speaking on Morning Ireland, said the lack of payments is a "far cry" from what the religious orders promised.

"This is a historical scandal in which the state and the Irish people in one hand and the religious teaching orders on the other, were fully involved.

"The taxpayer have now compensated these people, these victims, to the tune of €1.6billion, the taxpayer, it has cost you, me and everyone else, at a time when that money could have spent in so many different ways.

"That's a far cry from the 50/50 deal most people wanted, including the then Department of Finance, and it's a far cry from the religious teaching orders promised.

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"I don't want to see them bankrupt, or impost any kind of hardship.

"They could solve this issue with honour and dignity by handing over the keys of properties that are used for education purposes to the Irish Government, to the Irish people, as a token of their remorse and their sympathy with the victims and relatives of Irish history."

In a statement to RTÉ the Christian Brothers' leader, Brother Edmund Garvey, said the audit report's 14 month-old figures do not take account of the congregations' more recent €14million cash payment.

Brother Garvey also highlighted that playing fields worth "well over €100million" are almost ready to be transferred to the Edmund Rice Schools Trust.

He calculated that the Brothers' total contribution to help their fellow-brothers' abuse victims would rise to over €600million.

Speaking on the same programme, Minister Richard Bruton, the current Minister for Education, said the offer of transferring playing fields into the Edmund Rice Trust by the Christian Brothers was not acceptable - rather it should be transferred to the State or sold under a joint agreement.

In a separate statement, also to RTÉ, the Sisters of Mercy said they had honoured all of their commitments.

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They recalled their 2009 commitment to make a payment valued at almost €128million, €81million of which was to be paid directly to the State in the form of properties, which were worth that sum at the time.

However, they said the financial downturn had eroded the State's actual financial gains from the property transfers.

The Sisters said that they had "always made clear that the value of (their) contribution was subject to the fluctuations in value attaching to individual properties".

Have you been affected by this story or are you a survivor of institutional abuse? Contact Erica at The Irish Post on 0208 900 4354, [email protected] or send a letter to Erica Doyle Higgins c/0 The Irish Post, 88 Fenchurch Street, EC3M 4BY.