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Minister for Education puts pressure on religious orders

Irish religious orders €400m short in abuse redress payments

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Minister for Education puts pressure on religious orders

Glacially-paced negotiation leaves 18 Irish religious orders with €400 million yet to raise to complete their target redress amount for child abuse victims, the Irish Examiner reported.

Of the 18 orders in question, only one has cooperated with the government idea that the religious orders where abuse took place pay half of the necessary redress to victims, with the Irish taxpayer shouldering the other half, according to the Examiner.

On Friday, Education Minister Ruairi Quinn shepherded a bill through Oireachtas — to be signed by President Michael D Higgins this week — which is to set up a trust fund to which the orders can contribute cash.

Quinn said that the orders’ progress thus far have been “unsatisfactory,” the Examiner reported.

The total amount owed to victims, according to the government, is €1.36 billion.

To be guaranteed indemnity from civil prosecution, the orders agreed in 2002 to contribute  €128m in property and cash to the fund; ten years later, only €105m has been transferred to the state, with orders retaining a fifth of the properties they promised to transfer, RTÉ reported.

At the time of the 2002 deal, the estimated cost of redress was €500m. The 2009 Ryan report on institutional abuse more than doubled the estimated cost, to its current €1.36 billion.

Three years ago, the orders agreed to increase their target transfer amount by €350m, in accordance with the new abuse findings in the Ryan report, but the government called that additional amount insufficient, according to RTÉ.

The orders offered to transfer what they said amounted to €235.5m in property, but only 12 of the offered properties were deemed suitable, the Examiner reported.

“The value of these 12 properties, based on the congregation’s own valuations, is approximately €60m,” Quinn said.

One of the orders, the Religious Sisters of Charity, has offered €5m if they are able to raise funds from the development of six valuable properties, contingent on the approval of Dublin City Council.

Over the past half-year, only one property has been transferred to the state; 20 properties which were promised a decade ago have still not been signed over, according to the Examiner.

Quinn has said in the past  that “nobody wants to bankrupt the orders,” IrishCentral previously reported.

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