The leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland has clashed with the religious orders involved in child abuse over the amount they are willing to contribute towards compensating victims. Eighteen Catholic congregations defied calls from Cardinal Sean Brady to be more generous in their dealings with those who suffered abuse.
Pressure has been building on the Catholic hierarchy to do something about the grossly disproportionate burden that the Irish taxpayer has to shoulder in a controversial compensation or redress scheme for thousands of victims. But the religious orders said last night that they would not renegotiate the deal after Cardinal Brady, who is also bishop of Irelands largest diocese, asked them to revisit the terms of the compensation.
Last week the conclusions of the nine-year Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, headed by Mr Justice Sean Ryan, were published, and Dermot Ahern, the Irish Justice Minister, said yesterday that a senior garda officer was examining the report to see whether criminal charges could be laid. The report identifies about 800 abusers, among them nuns, priests and monks, principally members of the Christian Brothers. Only a handful have been prosecuted and convicted.
Pope Benedict XVI will also be briefed on the report.
Under the 2002 compensation deal 18 religious congregations agreed to pay Pfund127 million most of it in the form of buildings and land in return for indemnity against further claims against them. The Government agreed to meet the remaining costs, which have since spiralled to about Euro1.3 billion. (Pfund1.1 billion).
Public anger over the deal has increased. Thousands of people have queued to sign a solidarity book at Mansion House, Dublin, with some signatories angrily declaring that the guilty priests, nuns and monks who raped and tortured children in their care for decades should be hunted down like Nazis.