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  Child Abuse Scheme to Cover 30 More Centers

One in Four [Ireland]
August 18, 2004

Thirty institutions are set to be added to the Government's child abuse compensation scheme in a move which will expose the State to further compensation claims.

Department of Education officials have identified several mother- and-baby homes, special-needs schools and institutions for young offenders in which abuse claims have been made.

It is understood the institutions due to come under the redress board's remit include the Finglas Child and Adolescent Centre, the Holy Family School of Renmore, Co Galway, and a number of mother- and-baby homes.

St Ita's psychiatric hospital, Portrane, Co Dublin, and St Luke's psychiatric hospital in Clonmel, Co Tipperary, are also likely to be included.

There is no evidence to suggest abuse took place in these institutions. Allegations relating to these centres have yet to be heard by the redress board.

These institutions were not included in the redress scheme initially as there was uncertainty over whether the State had a role in inspecting the centres, while some claims have been made since the scheme was established.

Senior sources now concede there is "no way of knowing" how much further the State will be exposed to compensation claims when the 30 new institutions are added to the 128 already covered by the Residential Institutions Redress Board.

The redress board was set up in 2002 to make "fair and reasonable awards to persons who, as children, were abused while resident in industrial schools, reformatories and other institutions subject to state regulation or inspection".

Any increase in the State's exposure to compensation claims is likely to lead to renewed Opposition criticism of the indemnity deal the Government signed with religious orders for 127 million.

The Comptroller & Auditor General, who has criticised the Government for failing to evaluate properly the number of potential claimants before signing the deal, has said that the final bill could reach 1 billion.

Abuse claims relating to institutions in which children were placed, and where the State had a regulatory or inspection function, are eligible to come under the redress board's remit.

"It's impossible to know how many will be successful or how many new claims will be made when these institutions are publicised," a Department source said.

Latest figures show about 3,540 applications have been made to the redress board, and awards have been offered in more than 1,000 cases.