31/01/2002

Irish Catholic orders to pay €128 million to victims of abuse

Ireland's Roman Catholic religious orders are to pay €128 million to a compensation fund for victims of abuse in state-backed institutions.

The brokered package took over a year of talks between the Government and religious orders held responsible for decades of sexual and physical abuse of children.

Religious orders will pay €38 million in cash and transfer property to the State worth €80 million. Some €10 million will be put towards counselling services for an estimated 3,000 victims.

The payments will date back to the point when Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern issued a formal apology to the victims on behalf of the Irish State nearly three years ago.

In most of the cases, those accused have been members of religious orders and more than 3,000 people have applied from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, European countries as well as England and Ireland to present evidence to the Irish commission investigating the abuses.

Sister Elizabeth Maxwell, spokeswoman for the Conference of the Religious in Ireland, representing 18 orders, said: "We accept that some children in residential institutions managed by our members suffered deprivation, physical and sexual abuse. We regret that. We apologise for it."

Sister Maxwell said the financial contribution being made was "a concrete expression" of their genuine desire to encourage healing and reconciliation. (AMcE)

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