A question asked in the Irish parliament has revealed that the Catholic Church has paid only a small fraction of the money it pledged to the State last year to help compensate the victims of clerical sexual abuse, says the National Secular Society (NSS).
In May 2009 Judge Sean Ryan, issued a 2600 page report on abuse in church run industrial schools and orphanages in the Irish Republic, following a nine year investigation.
The enquiry found that rape and sexual abuse were"endemic" in boy's facilities. Girls suffered less sexual abuse but were subject to beatings and humiliation. The Ryan report also revealed that the church authorities had simply moved offenders to other institutions where they were free to abuse again.
The original judge appointed to head the enquiry, Mary Laffoy, resigned in 2003 over the refusal of the Department of Education - which was reponsible for inspection of orphanages and industrial schools - to hand over documents.
The NSS reported last week (23 December) that only €20m has been paid out of a total of €348m pledged following the publication of the Ryan Report. None of the property that was included in the agreement has been handed over. In addition, €26m is still outstanding from a €128m deal that Catholic organisations struck with the State in 2002, which granted them indemnity from having to pay further sums for the compensation of abuse victims.
The Labour Party’s education spokesman Ruairi Quinn, who asked the question, said the delay would hinder support for people who had suffered so horribly at the hands of members of the religious orders and that the public would be disappointed and angered at the slow pace of the payments. “I hope that it does not represent an attempt by the Religious Congregations to renege on the agreement and the Government must now insist the pace of payments and transfers is accelerated, particularly given the horrendous economic problems we are facing.”
The National Secular Society campaigns for the separation of Church and State and the abolition of priviliges granted to religious organisations.