Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Abuse victims unite in call for €600m extra compensation

VICTIM groups now want religious orders to pay €600m directly to survivors of institutional child sex abuse.

None of the compensation money should go to cover administrative, legal or medical costs, a new alliance of survivors of abuse groups has said.

Instead survivors want the Government to keep a promise made in 2002 that the Redress Board awards would match average High Court payouts in personal injury claims.

The average award by the Redress Board, set up by former Education Minister Michael Woods, was €70,000 so it could mean each survivor receiving an additional €230,000.

A summit meeting held in Dublin yesterday called on the Government to take "robust" action against the religious orders whom they accused of trying to draw out talks on additional payments to top up the €127m agreed by the Ahern Government in 2002.

Among those meeting in Dublin were the Survivors of Child Abuse (SOCA), the Aislinn Centre, Alliance Victim Support Group, Right to Place, Right to Peace and Justice and Healing for Industrially Abused.

Hold-ups

A joint statement called on Taoiseach Brian Cowen to name Children's Minister Barry Andrews as chief coordinator and facilitator to channel the extra money to victims without administrative hold-ups.

The statement asked if it was "morally monstrous" to demand the full and proper restitution that was promised to them seven years ago.

"The (Catholic Church) hierarchy should now make a meaningful financial contribution and accept its shameful role in creating the infrastructure of abuse that allowed its religious orders to operate with impunity," it added.

John Kelly, spokesman for SOCA, said there was sense of purpose among those taking part in the meeting and that they hoped to meet members of the Government and the church hierarchy to discuss their views.

"Whatever money is handed over from the religious orders, we want to make sure it goes directly to the victims without any legal, medical or other costs whatsoever," he said.

Mr Kelly said that to bring each survivor up to the level of High Court awards would require the religious orders to pay an equal 50pc share of the €1.3bn total cost of the redress scheme.

He said this amounts to €750m and, as the orders have already contributed in the region of €127m, he would expect an additional €600m.
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