The 18 religious congregations at the centre of the institutional child abuse scandal have agreed to make “financial and other” contributions in reparation to those who were under their care.
It follows a two-hour meeting with Irish government ministers at which Taoiseach Brian Cowen bluntly told them that “further substantial contributions” were needed in the wake of the Ryan report on child abuse.
The congregations have now agreed to an independent audit of their assets and to report back to the government within two weeks.
They have also agreed to contribute to an independently run trust and promised yesterday that the process of identifying all their resources would be “absolutely transparent”.
Mr Cowen said he pointed out that the government had accepted that the failings of the Irish government had clearly contributed to the conditions in which the pain and suffering experienced by thousands of children in ways documented in the Ryan report.
But he said he had also expressed the “dismay and abhorrence” of the government and the whole of the population at the catalogue of suffering, deprivation and abuse which was the lot of so many children committed to institutions under the care of religious communities.
A spokesman for the group, Fr Joe O’Reilly of the Rosminian Order, said all 18 congregations had again expressed their “regret and shame” at what happened to those under their care.
Each congregation was fully committed to identifying its resources, financial and other, and to meet the Taoiseach again in a fortnight.
“We will be transparent. We are keen to engage with this trust and keen that it is clear to everybody what our resources are,” he said.
But organisations representing the survivors of institutional abuse said last night that nothing less than an equal share of the financial contribution from the religious would be acceptable.
John Kelly, of Survivors of Child Abuse, said the congregations had to produce an equal share as part of their commitment to the abused — even if such a contribution “beggars them”.