Thousands of Irish-born Australians who were resident in state institutions in Ireland as children may be eligible for compensation from the Irish Government.
Many children who were resident in orphanages, industrial schools and centres for young offenders in Ireland between the 1920s and 1980s experienced abuse. This included experiences such as neglect, malnourishment, lack of education, being used for child labour, physical, psychological and sexual abuse.
The Irish Government has apologised for this and set up a compensation fund for victims, and, in some cases where the victim has died, their families.
Some people who may be eligible for compensation currently live in Australia.
They can apply before the closing date of December 2005.
Postal contact details
Send correspondence to:
Residential Institutions Redress Board
Belfield Office Park
Beech Hill Road, Clonskeagh
PO Box 9104, Dublin 4, Ireland
Telephone, email and website details
Telephone 0011 353 1 800 200 086 (for calls from outside Ireland, the Board can call back to minimise your costs). Alternately, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website www.rirb.ie
Receipt of a payment under this scheme may affect the rate of your social security payment.
If you receive one of these payments, you should immediately contact Centrelink or the Department of Veterans' Affairs to ensure you receive your correct social security/Veterans' Affairs payment. •
AUTUMN 2005 NEWS FOR SENIORS 17
Hurt: Heinrich's decision to publicly speak out has laid bare her torment
'I believe he is one sick little puppy and that he should have gone to jail'
Bishop of Bathurst
Opinion - Irish Times, www.ireland.com/newspaper/opinion/2005/0323/3682034444OPTRUST.html . This is no time to spin the truth, writes Patsy McGarry, Religious Affairs Correspondent.
IRELAND: It would be imagined that one of the last areas of human endeavour where you would find "spin", and management of news with a seeming intention to distract from the facts, would be in Church affairs. But this is not so.
Last week's statement from the Irish Episcopal Conference on its Stewardship Trust was issued to this office at 9.28pm on Wednesday night, the eve of St Patrick's Day. Wednesday was the last day of the bishops' three-day spring meeting.
The trust was set up in 1996 to compensate and help victims of incidents of clerical child sex abuse which had occurred up to then. Last Wednesday's statement was the first by the bishops to give details of how the trust's money was spent.
By the time the statement was released to the media, it was far too late for the 9 o'clock television news, and too late also for the newspapers, at that stage all going to press. Maybe it was hoped the story would go away.
Then, in the statement itself, there was the manner of its presentation of those general details of spending by the trust.
In heavy type a heading read "Child Protection Issues", for what were essentially details about compensation to abuse victims.
It read: "Since 1996, the Stewardship Trust has funded the following broad spectrum of child protection costs and services:
You will note the last item of the nine listed is "disbursement to dioceses". Nowhere is it explained that what was involved here was compensation to abuse victims and legal costs. In fact, as you will note, the word "compensation" does not appear at all.
Most of the trust spending was in compensation and little went on the bodies mentioned, which came into being recently. For instance, the Child Protection Office at Maynooth did not open until 2002, seven years after the trust was set up. Similarly with the Hussey Commission, which was set up, and disbanded, in 2002.
The Royal College of Surgeons report did not appear until 2003, eight years after the trust was set up. (Indeed it might be asked why the bishops commissioned such a sociological report at all. It found that child sex abuse was more widespread in Ireland than anywhere in the developed world and was not just a clerical problem. Was it commissioned for spin purposes too?)
The Lynott Group was set up in 2003, again not for eight years after the trust was established.
It was not until the last two sentences of the relevant part of the bishops' statement on Wednesday night that we came to the meat of the issue. We were told "the 26 dioceses on the island of Ireland have paid €1,420,021 in 2003 and €4,903,303 in 2004, respectively, into the Stewardship Trust". It continued that "as part of the review of the Stewardship Trust, bishops are undertaking a consultation process in their dioceses."
Translated, it means the bishops are about to go to the people for money to fund the trust.
Nowhere in the statement were we told that since November 2003 each diocese has been levied, by decision of the bishops, according to its Catholic population, to pay a substantial annual amount to the trust for a five-year period. Nowhere is it explained where this money is to come from.
Last month the existence of the levy emerged for the first time in a BBC Spotlight programme on Derry diocese.
Pressed for further details by the media, leading up to their spring meeting at Maynooth last week, the bishops issued last Wednesday's statement. No figures were given for what was contributed by each diocese, what was expected from each diocese, or how any of this had been or was to be funded.
Up to the bishops' meeting last week, just six of the 26 Catholic dioceses on the island had revealed details of their own contributions to the stewardship trust and how this was funded. Since then, and despite constant harrying of the Catholic Communications Office in Maynooth by media, no further details emerged from there.
Hence yesterday, and based on information extrapolated from figures released by those dioceses which have gone public, this reporter estimated, in an article,the sums expected from each diocese.
It was not ideal journalistic practice but, faced with spin and a brick wall, it was the only route left to help establish details on a matter which is clearly in the public interest and which is most certainly of interest to the paying public.
That a reporter has to go to such lengths to establish what most would believe is the right of every paying Catholic on this island to know about the disposal of his/her money or of those donations/bequests and properties held in trust on his/her behalf as members of the Catholic flock, speaks loudly of the attitude of bishops to their laity.
It also reinforces a view that the bishops have learned little since being forced, under media pressure and after eight years, to reveal in June 2002 the circumstances in which Mgr Miceál Ledwith departed as president of St Patrick's College, Maynooth, in 1994.
Or that they have learned nothing since being forced, again under media pressure and after 16 years, to reveal in February 2003 that most Irish dioceses were insured against clerical sex abuse claims since 1987.
It is time the bishops became aware that the institution they run is now expected to be as open, transparent and accountable in its dealings with its members as any other in society.
The expectation in this instance is even more so considering what secrecy and abuse of authority allowed to happen in the church in the past. The day when the Irish lay Catholic was content to pay and pray has long since gone. Through their own behaviour the bishops themselves have seen to that.
Speaking at a conference on Ethics and Values in the Digital Age, at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham last October, the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin, was very critical of "spin". It led to a serious lack of trust in institutions, he said. "Spin should not substitute for telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth," he added.
In Dublin Dr Martin has practised what he preached when it came to disclosure about the archdiocese's contribution to the Stewardship Trust and how this is to be achieved.
Would that more of his colleagues might follow suit.
Contact information: Telephone 01 662 4070, Fax 01 611 4650, E-mail email@example.com , Address 2 Holles Street, Dublin, Ireland.
Run for and by people who have experienced sexual abuse. [~ Mar 23, 05]