TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY is the latest political figure to weigh in and tell the Catholic Church that they have an obligation to pay the compensation they owe to survivors of abuse.
Speaking in Philadelphia, Kenny told RTÉ News that the Church and its congregations should measure up to their responsibility.
“I would expect congregations and the Church to reflect on the seriousness of this and measure up to their requirements,” said the Taoiseach.
“We had a position following the residential institutions and the amount of restitution to be made there, and that hasn’t been – what was set out in the beginning,” he added.
In 2002, an indemnity agreement was entered into by the Fianna Fáil Government and 18 religious orders. Under this agreement, the congregations agreed to hand over €128 million in cash and property. This was increased to €353 million after the publication of the Ryan report.
In return, the State would indemnify these orders against legal actions from former residents.
However, according to a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) published by the Department of Education last week, Catholic religious congregations who ran residential institutions where children were abused have paid just 13% of the costs of a redress scheme.
The C&AG finds that only €85 million of that €226 million has been received by the State.
Tuam mother and baby home
It’s over two weeks since it was announced that human remains of babies and infants were buried at the site of a mother and baby home in Tuam, County Galway.
Since then, there has been an outpouring of grief, disbelief and anger, with survivors of these institutions demanding answers from the religious orders and the State.
“For the importance and sensitivity of Tuam and any others that follow we need to try get this as right as we can,” Kenny said yesterday.
“I do hope that the Church and the congregations reflect on the years ahead and that with the State and agencies trying to get this right, particularly for those whose siblings and families were involved to measure up insofar as accepting responsibility or agreements where restitution is concerned and get on with it.”
Kenny’s message for the Church to “get on with it” comes in tandem to comments made by Health Minister Simon Harris yesterday.
Speaking on RTÉ’s The Week in Politics, Harris said the Church must “pay over and pay up”.
The Government will consider each and every legal tool at our disposal.
There is an outstanding amount under the existing agreement and the current contribution sought from the Church is pathetic and paltry and the fact they haven’t even paid that is going to be pursued immediately.
Harris said there was an understanding that the contribution by Church and State would be 50:50. However, he said the Church has not stepped up to the plate.
“The next time they make a homily and contribute to this public debate they would call on all religious institutions to pay up and that call should go all the way to the Vatican,” said Harris.
He called on the Pope and other religious leaders in the country to intervene and call on institutions pay the money owed.
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin took up that call yesterday evening, and said publicly that the Church’s commitments cannot be reneged upon.
“It is not acceptable the current position but we as a Government will look at all of the levers at our disposal. I want to take action,” said the health minister.
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