- Volume 1
- Volume 2
- Social and demographic profile of witnesses
- Circumstances of admission
- Family contact
- Everyday life experiences (male witnesses)
- Record of abuse (male witnesses)
- Everyday life experiences (female witnesses)
- Record of abuse (female witnesses)
- Positive memories and experiences
- Current circumstances
- Introduction to Part 2
- Special needs schools and residential services
- Children’s Homes
- Foster care
- Primary and second-level schools
- Residential Laundries, Novitiates, Hostels and other settings
- Concluding comments
- Volume 4
Chapter 1 — Establishment of the CommissionBack
Later in his evidence, Mr Boland went on to discuss how the issue of compensation came into consideration. He said that ‘a compensation scheme was very much in policy minds from a very early time’, but the Government had taken the view that they would deal with it once the Commission had concluded its work. On 20th July 2000, the chairperson of the Commission informed the Department of Education and Science that a number of solicitors representing clients who alleged having suffered abuse as children had adopted a position, whereby they would advise their clients not to cooperate with the Commission until the issue of compensation was dealt with. The chairperson expressed the view that this would have serious implications for the Commission’s ability to carry out its task, and asked the Government to make a decision in principle in relation to the setting-up of a compensation scheme as quickly as possible. On 27th September 2000, the chairperson criticised the lack of action in relation to the issue of compensation at a public sitting of the Commission. On 3rd October 2000, the Government decided to agree in principle: to set up a compensation scheme, that the definition of abuse for the purposes of the scheme would be the same as in the Commission legislation, that compensation would be paid on an ex-gratia basis, without establishing liability on the part of State bodies, but subject to the claimant establishing to the satisfaction of the body that he or she had suffered abuse and resulting injury, and that the amount of compensation would be broadly similar to that which would be awarded to a claimant had he or she pursued successfully a claim for damages in the courts.
Mr Boland outlined the policy basis for the compensation scheme: I suppose there were a number of reasons ... Allowing cases to proceed to litigation from a survivors point of view and from a social point of view was simply the wrong thing to do in the view of Government. It would negate any real sense of meaning from the apology on behalf of the Irish Nation if then people who wanted to get compensation for the abuse they had suffered had to go through an extraordinarily lengthy process in the High Court. There was also of course the fact that many of those cases would fail not because they didnt suffer injury and not because they had not been injured, but because of what might be regarded as technical rules of evidence. And that was not acceptable to Government either. There was a pure operational issue for the courts. 800 cases at that stage, maybe a couple of thousand. Now we think maybe a few thousand. The effect it would have had on the administration of justice or from the court system would be enormous.
Mr Boland pointed out that, in developing a policy on the compensation scheme, the Government carried out a comprehensive review of the practice in other jurisdictions.
Following a consultation process, the Minister for Education and Science returned to Government with a set of proposals for legislation, which subsequently became the Residential Institutions Redress Act, 2002 (the Act of 2002).
Mr Boland discussed the indemnity agreement24 with Religious Congregations and issues of apportionment of liability. He said that the Governments action in setting up the scheme was not motivated to any significant extent by considerations of legal liability or culpability: the Government determined upon a redress scheme with an approach that said this was to be done regardless of the involvement of anybody else. And it was to be done by the State paying for full compensation. This was seen as an issue for Irish society. It was an issue that had to be dealt with fully and firmly for once and for all. Therefore, the most effective way in which Government could achieve that was that to take responsibility for it, and that is what it did. So the scheme was to be fully funded by the State. That was the starting position. And full awards were to be paid.
He explained to the Committee how the Congregations became involved in making a contribution to the scheme: Clearly there would always be a difficulty in the minds of many people, not least those who had suffered abuse, if the Congregations had no involvement at all in the compensation scheme. Therefore it was felt as a policy objective desirable that they would be involved. And in fairness to them they said quite early on that they would like to make a meaningful contribution to the scheme. That was finally decided with them and Government made a decision on that basis. But the scheme was going ahead in any event.
The indemnity agreement between the State and CORI provided for the 18 Religious Congregations to make a contribution of €128 million to the Residential Institutions Redress Fund. In return, the Government agreed to grant an indemnity to the Religious Congregations that were parties to the agreement. However, the indemnity agreement of 5th June 2002 was not based on any apportionment of responsibility for abuse.
Dr Michael Woods was appointed Minister for Education and Science on 27th January 2000, at which stage the Taoiseach had issued his apology and the decision had been taken to establish the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse. During his time as Minister for Education and Science, Dr Woods was responsible for bringing proposals to Government regarding the Redress Scheme, subsequently the Act of 2002 and the indemnity agreement with the Religious Congregations.
Dr Woods gave evidence at the Emergence hearings, where he noted that Mr Boland had dealt comprehensively with the Redress Scheme in his evidence but commented briefly on the matter himself. He told the Investigation Committee that the more he became involved in the process following his appointment as Minister for Education and Science, the more he became ‘acutely aware of the issues and the problems which were faced by the victims’. Dr Woods said ‘that the early establishment of the scheme was seen as (a) greatly reducing the stress of survivors of abuse and, (b) it was to facilitate the progress of the Commission’. He said that the involvement of the Congregations was seen by the State as a desirable policy objective but stressed: as far as the State was concerned it was very firm in its decision that the State was going ahead in any event with the Redress Scheme. That it was the right way to go.
Dr Woods said that part of the Governments desire to get the Congregations to contribute was to bring about a situation where there was closure to the whole issue of past institutional abuse.
Religious Congregations’ evidence
The two major topics for the Religious Congregations at the Emergence hearings were the contributions they made to the State Redress fund of compensation to victims and the apologies that many of them issued. Contributions to the State fund posed much less of an issue or a problem for them than the question of apology. They were largely in agreement on compensation. Negotiations were carried out on their behalf by the Conference of Religious of Ireland (CORI), which is an umbrella organisation for the various Religious Congregations in Ireland. The agreement reached was favourable to the Religious Congregations, but the Investigation Committee was not concerned with the wisdom or reasonableness of the agreement reached.
It might have been thought that Congregations who contributed to the fund were in effect conceding that there had been some abuse in their institutions. The agreement did not require them to do so, but the mere fact of payment into the fund, in return for an indemnity in respect of any actions that might be taken, could have been regarded as an expression of some kind of admission or acknowledgement, but it was said not to be the case.
The position with regard to apologies was more complicated. Some Congregations issued apologies and some did not. Those that issued apologies used a variety of different expressions. Through their spokespersons, they testified to the good intentions that lay behind the apologies. Some of the apologies were more effective than others in meeting the needs of survivor groups.
Congregations were fearful that what they said in order to assuage the feelings of victims of abuse might be used to damage them, as they saw it. Their words might be taken as concessions or admissions as to events that were alleged to have happened. The aims of acknowledging past wrongs and assuaging feelings of victims are at odds with the desire to avoid admissions and concessions about abuse. Most of the apologies reflected tension between these objectives, and were largely unsatisfactory as a result.
The attitude of many of the Congregations was conditional. If their members committed abuse, they expressed regret for it. They did not accept Congregational responsibility for any abuse that happened. As to whether abuse had actually happened, they said they were leaving that to the Commission to establish, because that was the function of the Commission, and because they had contradictory information on the claims of complainants and in the responses of their own members.
- Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, Initial Report on Terms of Reference, 7th September 1999.
- Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, Report on Terms of Reference, 14th October 1999.
- Amendments were also made by the Residential Institutions Redress Act, 2002: See Section 32.
- Section 1 of the Principal Act, as amended by section 3 of the 2005 Act.
- Section 15(1) of the Principal Act, as amended by section 10 of the 2005 Act.
- Section 16 of the Principal Act as amended by section 11 of the 2005 Act.
- Section 4(6) as substituted by section 4 of the 2005 Act.
- Section 12(1) of the Principal Act, as amended by section 7 of the 2005 Act.
- Section 12(1)(d)(iii), as amended by section 7(c) of the 2005 Act.
- Section 14, as amended by section 9 of the 2005 Act.
- Section 14(1)(a) of the Principal Act.
- Section 14(1)(b)–(d) of the Principal Act.
- Section 14(1)(e) of the Principal Act.
- Section 14(8) of the Principal Act, as inserted by section 9 of the 2005 Act.
- Section 14(9) of the Principal Act, as inserted by section 9 of the 2005 Act.
- Section 14(11) of the Principal Act, as inserted by section 9 of the 2005 Act.
- Section 14(10) of the Principal Act, as amended by section 9 of the 2005 Act.
- Section 14(14) of the Principal Act, as inserted by section 9 of the 2005 Act.
- Section 14 of the Principal Act, as amended by section 9 of the 2005 Act.
- Section 13 of the Principal Act, as amended by section 8 of the 2005 Act.
- Section 1(1) of the Principal Act.
- ‘Dear Daughter’ was a dramatised programme broadcast in 1996 by RTE which featured Goldenbridge Industrial School.
- There were three programmes broadcast by RTE in 1999 in the ‘States of Fear’ series: ‘Industrial Schools and Reformatories from the 1940s–1980s’, ‘The Legacy of Industrial Schools’, and ‘Sick and Disabled Children in Institutions’.
- Under the terms of the indemnity agreement reached with the Religious Congregations on 5th June 2002, the Congregations agreed to make a contribution of €128 million towards the redress scheme. This was broken down as follows: cash contribution €41.14 million; provision of counselling services €10 million and property transfers €76.86 million.
- An organisation funded by the Congregations that provides counselling for persons who have been abused by religious Orders and Congregations.
- This is dealt with in full in the chapter on St Joseph’s Industrial School, Greenmount.
- This is a pseudonym.
- Cork VEC – Cork Vocational Education Committees.
- FÁS – Training and employment authority.
- See Third Interim Report, chapter 4.