The Christian Brothers, the worst offenders in the clerical child abuse scandal, last night bowed to intense pressure and agreed to look for a possible new deal to make amends to its victims.
Almost one week after the shocking Ryan Report was published, the order appealed for another six weeks to listen to people who their members abused and tortured, their families and support and representative groups – and suggested it could hand over millions directly to victims of abuse.
Crucially, this would mean no renegotiation of the 2002 indemnity deal, which capped the amount that religious orders are liable to pay victims at €128m.
And the Christian Brothers will not offer up accommodation centres and the funding and resources it says it needs to support members and some of its work at home and abroad.
However, it does have other properties and assets worth millions that it said could be used to compensate abuse victims for their suffering.
In a statement yesterday, the order said: “The Brothers, in consultation with former residents and other stakeholders, including Government, will review how our resources can best be applied in reparation for abuses of the past and as an investment in child education and welfare for present and future generations.
“This review process will extend to all of our resources above and beyond such accommodation and means necessary to maintain the members of our Congregation and to support selected commitments at home and overseas.”
Taoiseach Brian Cowen publicly apologised in the Dail on behalf of the State for failing to protect and rescue children while warning the original redress deal could not be redrawn.
“It is indeed the advice for Government that it is not possible to reopen that particular agreement,” Mr Cowen told the Dail. “But at the same time, I think it in no way hinders additional voluntarily contributions being made by those congregations, as an indication of the sincerity of their position, as a result of the graphic, horrendous details which form the central part of this report.”
The Christian Brothers, who struck an immunity clause in the middle of the child abuse inquiry, will consult with Government during the review.
Mr Cowen also addressed the issue of moral responsibility and said both the orders and the State had failed children.
In its statement, the Christian Brothers, which ran the most of |the institutions for older boys, said it would look at the best way of making reparation for abuses of the past and investing in child education and welfare.
“We have extended the suffering of former residents who were either not listened to or not |believed,” it said in a statement. “As a congregation we want to make amends and to beg forgiveness.”
The Christian Brothers also said it accepted, with shame, the findings of the Ryan inquiry and that it was deeply sorry for the hurt, mistakes of the past and |the inadequacy of its responses over recent years.
The Dail heard cross-party support for a motion to reflect the widespread outrage at the decades of clerical child abuse.
Meanwhile, Cori, the Conference of the Religious in Ireland which represents the 18 congregations responsible for institutional abuse of children, said the controversial 2002 redress deal, which capped their contribution at €127m would not be reviewed.