Final Bill for Victims of Abuse Could Hit €1.3bn

By Kathy Donaghy
Irish Independent
January 4, 2006

THE high-powered Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is set to re-examine the controversial Church/State deal to cover compensation claims by victims of abuse in residential institutions.Committee Chairman Michael Noonan told the Irish Independent the deal would have to be looked at again in the context of the final bill being in the region of 1.3bn - twice what the Department of Education said it would cost.

The Government agreed a 128m deal with the religious institutions in 2002 to cover the payouts to abuse victims.

Mr Noonan pointed out that when the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) John Purcell said it was going to cost as much as 1bn, he was heavily criticised.

"It lookes as if it's going to exceed that now and reach 1.3bn," said the Limerick East Fine Gael TD for Limerick east. "I think we need to get back into that issue.

"It's a phenomenal amount of money the taxpayer is being asked to pay when you look at the contribution of the religious orders.

"The people who made the decision in the Department of Education said it would cost a maximum of 600m. It's going to come in at double that now."

Meanwhile, the committee will resume its questioning of health service bosses on the the 150m PPARS computer system fiasco on January 19.

Mr Noonan said they will be inviting the former of the Department of Health Secretary General Michael Kelly along with the chief executives of the health board areas and hospitals involved in the rollout of the system. Mr Noonan said they will be writing to the CEO of the North Western Health Board Pat Harvey to attend the meeting. The North-Western Health Board took a lead role in the project and the committee is anxious that Mr Harvey attend the January meeting. And the National Roads Authority, the chief executive of National Toll Roads Ireland and Department of Transport officials are set to come before the committee in early February.

Mr Noonan said they had been informed that negotiations on tolling the M50 were slow and hoped to bring all the parties before the PAC to discuss the issue. "We will bring all the players into a room and see what's going on," he added.

Public service pensions and how they are funded are also on the agenda.

On top of this the PAC will also debate the findings of four reports by the C&AG - reports into waste management in hospitals, the PPARS controversy, disability services by non-profit organisations and property sale by Shannon Development.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.