Irish taxpayers to subsidise clerical rapists

PRIESTS, nuns and Christian Brothers beat, molested and raped thousands of young children who were sent into their "care". Decades of horrific abuse were suffered in residential institutions. So far over 1,000 Catholic Church internal files about incidents of child sexual abuse have been handed over the Birmingham inquiry.

A massive criminal conspiracy protected the abusers. Not one single priest, nun or Christian Bother reported a fellow cleric to the guards, all complaints were made by those who had been the victims. The Department of Education never intervened.

In the final days of the last government Education Minister Michael Woods signed a deal with 18 religious orders whereby the state will pick up the bill for all compensation in excess of e128 million. Already costs to the state are estimated at over e400 million (Sunday Business Post, June 9th).

In fact, only e40 million will be paid in cash. Another e40 million worth of property transferred to the state, or to voluntary bodies, over the last three years counts as part of the church's bill. The remainder is to be paid through more transfers of property, which the church no longer needs because of falling 'vocations'.

Of the cash, e12.7 million will go into a special trust fund controlled by the religious orders themselves. The victims of abuse will have no legal right to this money. And to cap it all, the deal allows any future Minister of Education to extend the protection of the deal to non-residential institutions by simply signing a ministerial order.

To rub salt into the wound, Sister Elizabeth Maxell, the secretary-general of the Conference of Religious in Ireland told us that the tax payer "is getting very good value we've been more than generous". This is the same nun who announced that since 1997 CORI own helpline had received over 5,000 calls about sexual abuse by clerics or religious personnel. And surely it is only some victims who would phone a helpline run by the very organisation their abusers belong to.

Nobody should dispute that the state shares responsibility, it sent vulnerable children to cruel institutions where they were abused. And, at the very least, turned a blind eye to the suffering of those children.

However, Fianna Fail and the PDs have effectively told the church that their crimes of abuse and cover-up are not really too serious, and that they will only have pay a small fraction of the compensation awards that will be made to those whose childhoods were destroyed. The PAYE worker will be hit once again, this time to pay for the monstrous crimes of an extremely wealthy organisation.

See also

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This edition is No71 published in July 2002

Workers Solidarity 71