State May Ask Church for Cash Payment of ˆ32m

By Mary Regan
Irish Examiner

November 11, 2008

THE Catholic Church may be asked to make a cash payment of ˆ32 million to the Government because it has so far failed to hand over property as agreed under the redress scheme to compensate victims of clerical sex abuse.

The overall compensation package for abuse victims will cost ˆ1.1 billion which is paid out by the Residential Institutions Redress Board set up six years ago.

Under a controversial deal agreed back in 2002 the liability of religious orders is limited to ˆ128m while the rest of the compensation is to be paid by taxpayers.

As part of the 2002 agreement religious orders were given indemnity from abuse claims and, in turn, the Church was to give the state ˆ76.8m in property transfers, ˆ41.14m in cash and provide a counselling service to abuse victims to the value of ˆ10m.

It has emerged that the Church has only paid ˆ96m of what it agreed because of legal difficulties in transferring property.

Education Minister Batt O’Keeffe has revealed that the original deal with the Church has been altered.

Mr O’Keeffe said the sum of ˆ128m to be paid by the Church has stayed the same but it has changed to ˆ66m from property, ˆ52m in cash and ˆ10m in counselling.

“I can confirm that the full cash contribution of ˆ52m has been received, including that which was accepted in lieu of properties. My department has also received confirmation that the contributing congregations have provided counselling services to the value of ˆ10m,” he said.

Mr O’Keeffe said that of the ˆ66m owed by the church in property, just ˆ26.8m has been paid and the process is underway for the transferal of ˆ7.5m worth of property.

“This leaves a balance of properties, valued at ˆ31.735m, where the legal transfer remains to be completed,” he said.

“Consideration may have to be given to accepting an alternative property or cash where good and marketable title cannot be established,” he said.

In a written response to a Dail question from Fine Gael’s Simon Coveney, Mr O’Keeffe said his department had agreed with Catholic institutions that 64 church properties would be transferred.

“It is regrettable the process for the final transfer of some of these properties is not yet completed,” he said.

The scheme was set up following a public apology to victims by the Taoiseach in May 1999. It was envisaged that 2,000 people would apply for compensation, but this reached 14,500 last year. The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse is expected to publish its report shortly.


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