This morning, The Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General published a report on the cost of the child abuse inquiry and redress schemes.
Via The Comptroller
The work of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse and of the Redress Board is largely complete. Costs to the end of 2015 of the child abuse inquiry and redress are an estimated €1.5 billion.
Both the cost to the State and the time required to bring the process to a conclusion have hugely exceeded original estimates.
The Commission’s work cost an estimated €82 million – the Department of Education and Skills initially forecast the cost at €2.5 million.
The final report of the Commission, often referred to as the Ryan report, was published in May 2009.
The redress scheme accounts for the largest element of the costs, at an estimated €1.25 billion.
The original forecast cost of the scheme was €250 million.
By the end of 2015, awards totalling €970 million had been made to 15,579 claimants – an average award of €62,250. 85% of the awards were at or below a level of €100,000 per person. The highest award made was €300,000.
By 31 December 2015, the Redress Board had approved legal cost payments of €192.9 million to 991 legal firms in respect of 15,345 applications.
17 legal firms were paid between €1 million and €5 million each and seven firms were paid amounts between €5 million and €19 million each.
Outside of the redress scheme, other supports have been put in place to assist the former residents of the institutions. The overall spend on health, housing, educational and counselling services is estimated at €176 million.
Government policy was to pursue the sharing of the cost of redress on a 50:50 basis with the religious congregations.
This would require the congregations to contribute €760 million.
To date, the congregations have offered the equivalent to about 23% of the overall cost.
Contributions received from the congregations up to the end of 2015 represent about 13% of the cost.
An indemnity agreement was signed in 2002 between the State and 18 religious congregations, who agreed to contribute to the costs of redress by transferring property, cash and other resources totalling €128 million, of which €21 million remains to be transferred to the State at the end of 2015.
Following the publication of the Ryan Report in 2009, the congregations offered additional cash and property valued at €353 million.
This combined offer was revised to €226 million
in September 2015. Six years after the publication of the Ryan report, only €85 million (38%) of the €226 million offer has been received by the State.
They included The Augustinians; The Passionists: The Sacred Hearts Fathers of Jesus and Mary; The Discalced Carmelites (OCD); The Franciscan Friars; The Franciscan Brothers; The Servites; The Marist Fathers and The Dominican Sisters
The inspection process revealed:
* Poor record management in many cases making an assessment of practice difficult.
* Opportunities to safeguard children were missed, known abusers allowed to remain in ministry in 1990s.
* Variable delays in reporting allegations to the civil authorities up until 2009 (introduction of Safeguarding Children, Standards and Guidance) for most Orders and Congregations, however for some practice did not improve until 2013.
Teresa Devlin, CEO of NBSCCCI sez:
“In relation to the large reviews, I’m disappointed that, for the majority of Orders, the whole area of safeguarding is only being bedded down in the last couple of years,” said . “Of the 9 only two Orders have demonstrated good compliance with the standards, and have demonstrated their commitment to putting in place good safeguards for children as well as prompt responses to allegations of abuse. For the other 7 there is considerable work to be done. “A series of recommendations have been made within each report and the Board expects that these will be acted upon…We will request an update on their progress in implementing those recommendations in 9 months.”
Yesterday a man was arrested in connection with the kidnapping of Mary Boyle in 1977.
It has put the spotlight on the existence of a possible paedophile ring that has operated in the South Donegal area for decades.
1977: Six-year-old Mary Boyle disappears while visiting her grandparents’ home near Ballyshannon. An intensive search of the area yields no results.
1998: Speaking to the Irish Independent in his capacity as ‘youth community worker’, Liam Adams, Gerry Adams’ brother, references a ‘very well-organised paedophile ring’, which may have links in Donegal.
2000: Eugene Greene, a priest from Gort an Choirce in the Raphoe Diocese, which covers most of Donegal, is sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment after being convicted of abusing up to 26 boys in a number of parishes within the diocese during the period 1965 and 1982.
2002: Denis McGinley, a teacher from Gort an Choirce, who also abused a multiplicity of victims, is sentenced to 30 months in respect of offences committed between 1978 and 1995.
2004: Allegations that up to 22 men had sexual relations with a 13 year-old Ballyshannon girl in various locations in Ballyshannon, Rossknowlagh and Donegal Town in 2003.
2006: In February, a teenage girl is raped in Bundoran.
2007: Following an almost three-year investigation 6 men are charged with sexual assault on the 13-year-old Ballyshannon girl.
In March, another 13-year-old girl is attacked and raped in Donegal Town by a local man in his twenties. In September, a teenage girl is sexually assaulted by a 22-year-old man on the main street of Donegal Town while walking home from school. In the same month, another teenage girl is sexually assaulted in Bundoran.
Trials of six men charged in relation to the 13-year-old Ballyshannon girl take place. Five men, aged between 22 and 34 years of age, are convicted, four of whom are sentenced to periods of imprisonment of between two and three years, with the other being given a suspended sentence., pleads not guilty, is convicted on two counts, and sentenced to 2 years and six months.. The sixth man successfully pleads genuine mistake as to age and is found not guilty.
2008: In September, a 16-year-old girl is attacked by an 18-year-old youth at the Harvest Fair in Glenties.
Retired Garda Martin Ridge, who led the investigation into Greene and McGinley, publishes a book about the investigation ‘Breaking the Silence’ (Gill & Macmillan). This book alleges that Eugene Greene was known to clergy in Raphoe as a paedophile at least as early as 1976.
2009: In April, a 57-year-old Bundoran man is convicted of sexually assaulting a 19-year-old girl.
2010: In June, it is reported that the gardai have files on 16 additional men who had sexual intercourse with the 13-year-old Ballyshannon girl in 2003 but against whom charges were not brought by the DPP due to insufficient evidence. The girl’s diary records that she had sex 57 times with 22 men over a six-month period.
In July, paedophile William John Paden – one of Britain’s most wanted sex offenders – is arrested in Ballyshannon.
2011: A schoolgirl is raped by a schoolboy after the Ballyshannon Carnival. Two other girls come forward to allege rape by the same boy, whom the Mirror states is “believed to have links to a notorious pervert from the county who was jailed in the past for a sex attack”.
In June, the Irish Independent reports that the gardai have begun an investigation into an organized child sex ring in Donegal.
The following month, paedophile Michael Ferry is convicted of having raped four boys on the premises of an Irish language summer school in Gweedore. Ferry was allowed to carry out odd jobs on the school despite the management being aware of his past conviction for a sexual offence in 2002. Justice Minister Alan Shatter orders an investigation. One of the victims, Derek Mulligan, waives his anonymnity and expresses concern that Ferry – who took pictures of the boys when abusing them – may have been part of a paedophile ring operating in the area. Highland Radio reports that the Gardai are investigating claims against four other persons linked to Ferry. Two men are subsequently arrested and released in what are believed to be Ferry-linked investigations, although no charges are subsequently brought.
An unidentified source involved in social work is quoted in the Donegal Democrat as stating that child sex abuse is rampant in parts of Donegal and has been for many years. In August, the Guardian reports that new evidence has emerged of a lay paedophile ring in Donegal paralleling the church paedophile ring to be detailed in the forthcoming Raphoe Report, in which the Gardai was complicit, and in relation to which an investigation is now under way.
In November, the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church publishes the Raphoe Report. This review of sexual abuse in the Raphoe Diocese purports to examine all case files from 1975 to 2010 to determine how allegations and concerns were dealt with. The report identifies 52 allegations against 14 separate priests in the diocese since 1975, eight of whom have left the priesthood or are no longer serving in a ministry and four of whom have been convicted of offenses against children or young people. The only priest named in the report is Father Greene. The Report was described as a whitewash by the local Tirconaill Tribune newspaper, which criticised the reviewers for not having spoken with the persons abused.
The same month, an abuse survivor, John O’Donnell of Flacarragh, demands a full state enquiry into alleged cover up of a 1970s Donegal paedophile ring. Mr O’Donnell alleges that his attempt to report his abuse by a lay church member to the Gardai in 1973 resulted in him being slapped and slung out.
The same year, the Gardai begin a review into the case of Mary Boyle.
2012: In February, a youth is arrested following a sexual attack on a 15-year-old girl in Ballyshannon.
In May, the BBC airs a documentary about clerical child abuse in Donegal “The Shame of the Catholic Church.” The documentary focuses on a secret church inquiry in 1975 when a 14-year-old Donegal boy, Brendan Boland, was questioned by the church after he had disclosed he had been abused by Fr Smyth during time spent by him in a parish Donegal. Three priests took part in the process, among them Cardinal Brady, then Fr John Brady – a canon lawyer, bishop’s secretary and school teacher.
In the documentary, retired Garda Martin Ridge is quoted as saying:-“I don’t believe a week went by in West Donegal where you hadn’t a child or a number of children sexually abused . It’s horrendous. Anywhere you look around here which is so hard to fathom: by-roads, side roads, churches, schools – the abuse here was something unbelievable, unbelievable. And the fact that nobody in the public spoke out about this after the total carnage here.”
2013: A 63-year-old man is convicted and sentenced to two years’ imprisonment for 35 charges of indecent assault on two young brothers in Ballyshannon between 1966 and 1971.
A 44-year-old Ballyshannon man pleads guilty to approaching schoolboys in their early teens, showing them porn and offering them money for sex.
Peter Cororan of Falcarragh is sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment for the abuse of seven victims, some aged as young as 7, over the course of 16 years.
In October, Liam Adams is convicted of raping and sexually assaulting his daughter, Aine Dahlstrom, over a six-year period between 1977 and 1983.
2014: In January, TG4 programme Micheál Ó Fearraigh: Feall i ndiaidh Fill airs. The programme states that, although an interim Garda report supplied to the Justice Minister in the months following Ferry’s 2011 conviction claims that gardaí had alerted both the school’s directors and the then North Western Health Board (now HSE) about Ferry’s first conviction shortly after it occurred in 2002, the Health Service Executive has yet to publish its own internal report into what actions it took after receiving this information from gardaí.
In April, Arline Murphy, aged 50, from Ballyshannon, publishes her story in the Donegal Democrat, detailing a history of abuse between the ages of 7 and 16 by a number of different Ballyshannon people, both male and female, known to one another.
Gardai investigating the disappearance of Mary Boyle inspect and take forensic evidence from a bowl-shaped area of land near where she was last seen, and where neighbours reported seeing what appeared to be a shallow grave some days after her disappearance. Although they informed the Gardai, no body was found in the spot by the time it came to be searched.
On October 21, it is reported that a 64-year-old man has been questioned about the kidnapping of Mary Boyle. The man, resident in the Ballyshannon area at the time of Mary’s disappearance, is currently serving time for indecent assault.
Martin Óg Meehan, son of the late Martin Meehan wrote last year about his belief of a cover-up of sexual abuse within Sinn Féin.
Briege McLaughlin was elected as a Sinn Féin councillor in Newtownabbey in 2001 and was formerly married to Martin Meehan senior. She admitted child cruelty and assault in Belfast Crown Court last year and received a suspended sentence. After her guilty plea, the seven sexual abuse charges she faced were “left on the books” and not proceeded with.
Eighteen months after the tragic death of our mother, the Meehan family threshold was crossed by our Dad’s new girlfriend, Mrs. Briege McLaughlin. She was already expecting Dad’s baby at the time. The arrival of this woman, left my siblings and I quite bemused and confused. However, my brother, sister and I agreed to make her welcome because our father deserved happiness after the untimely demise of our mother.
To the best of my knowledge, Briege couldn’t have been nicer between February and July, 1979 in our terraced Ardoyne home. We were at school most of the time and hardly had much contact with Briege, as kids we also went to bed at nights pretty early.
Almost immediately after our Dad’s arrest and incarceration in Crumlin Road Gaol, Briege began a depraved campaign of abuse against my sister Mary. The details of which are too harrowing for me to write about, as they cause me and my family so much pain. Although, they have been widely reported in the Irish media in recent days, after Briege finally admitted her guilt to a Belfast Court on Wednesday June 4, 2013.
Thirty-three years after they occurred in Northwick Drive, Mary sought medical, Social Services and school reports from the years, 1979 and 1980 concerning her after our Dad died suddenly in November, 2007. She never wanted to hurt him regarding Briege’s crimes against her and she respectfully waited until he left this world, before initiating her struggle to get justice from Briege. As everyone now knows, he was in a British Gaol at the time and Briege’s twisted crimes have absolutely no bearing nor reflection upon his memory. Kevin, Mary and I do not blame our Dad, one iota for what happened back then. He could not have possibly known his then girlfriend was a child abuser.
Briege McLaughlin (née Hogg) not only ‘fooled’ our father, she also duped her two children, the majority of Provisional Sinn Féin activists and the wider community that she was a ‘normal’ person, mother, wife and Republican. We knew the truth but didn’t inform anyone of the true nature behind her unprovoked assaults, mental torture and drunken outbursts upon our sister in our home. We know for a fact that senior members of Sinn Féin and the IRA within North Belfast covered up Briege’s campaign of terror. Over a hundred brave Ardoyne women protested outside our home about what she had subjected Mary to after she was taken and placed in a safe environment away from Briege. Sinn Féin knew many of the facts behind the protest and yet not only permitted her to join the fledgling party but gave her senior roles in it’s Comhairle Ceanntar (District Executive) in the early Eighties. They also selected her to stand in successive elections as a party candidate in Newtownabbey in 2001 and 2005. She was not suspended until I (myself) notified them that Mary had a mountain of evidence against one of its councillors. She eventually resigned from Sinn Féin in 2010.
The RUC and Social Services were also culpable in allowing Briege to viciously brutalise Mary. As we have written reports of meetings held to discuss my sister’s abuse between both agencies. However, both organisations failed her and it took a full eight months after the initial reports were made by neighbours from Northwick Drive. We, the Court, Public Prosecution Service (PPS), PSNI and a number of Belfast journalists have the names and positions of the ‘Professionals’ who utterly failed ten year-old, Mary as with Sinn Fein’s knowledge about my sister’s horrific beatings at the hands of Briege McLaughlin. Likewise, we also have in our position the names of current and former Sinn Féin members, who instead of making Briege accountable for her criminal mistreatment and cruelty of our sister, fooled the party leadership into believing that Mary’s allegations, were the claims of a disturbed woman. They also fully backed Briege’s rise within Sinn Féin that culminated in her being elected as a party representative on Newtownabbey Council in 2001. Even though, she was never an Irish Republican in the first place.
The Meehan family demand a full and public apology to Mary from Social Services, PSNI and Sinn Féin. Even though, I personally notified the party in 2008 about Mary’s willingness to have Briege charged due to the mountain of evidence in our Mary’s possession.
Without public apologies from the above organisations, my sister will not be able to fully receive justice, nor rebuild her life and that of her four children who also suffered horrible side-effects of Briege’s reign of terror on their loving mother. Mary is not only a victim of a cruel abuser, she is also the daughter of the late Martin Meehan, a Republican who’s selfless sacrifice in pursuit of an Ireland free from foreign occupation.
“I will show [Northern Ireland First Minister] Peter Robinson evidence that Sinn Féin and the IRA internally investigated sexual abuse perpetrated by republicans, moved these people around the country, and in doing so put children at risk.”
“The recent allegations made by Maíria Cahill are of serious concern to myself and Sinn Féin. While I refute completely Maíria’s allegations against myself and Sinn Féin it does raise the significant issue of how allegations of abuse had been handled in the past by republicans.
….After the pogroms of 1969, Internment in 1971 and Bloody Sunday in 1972 the vast majority of nationalists withdrew any consent to be governed from the Northern state, it’s institutions and agencies.
The conflict itself caused widespread hurt and suffering, but so too did the absence of the structures and institutions which are the norm in peaceful, democratic societies. These citizens never had a policing service. Policing and the Legal process were subverted to the primary objective of defeating republicanism at all costs. The RUC was a quasi-military arm of the state which acted against nationalists and republicans as if we were the enemy.
In many cases the absence of a civic police service also disconnected alienated communities from the support of social services. These communities policed themselves. The vast majority of people were law abiding and decent. Strong and empowered and progressive communities emerged. New and innovative restorative justice systems were developed as part of this collective experience. But there was also, particularly in the first two decades of the conflict a more brutal form of rough justice.
Some journalists and political opponents of Sinn Féin continue to perpetuate a particular myth about life in nationalist areas of the North during the conflict. They portray republicans as having oppressed republican/nationalist communities through political control and vigilantism. This was never the case. The IRA could never have sustained itself without popular support and Sinn Féin would not have developed as we have unless we had the support of the people.
The reality of course is that a professional, accountable and impartial policing service was absent and unattainable in a society that was manifestly unjust. In many republican areas the community put pressure on the IRA – which sprang from and was sustained by the community – to fill this policing vacuum.
The IRA itself often viewed this role as a major distraction from its central function. It suspected that the RUC indulged criminals in order to tie down IRA resources and demoralise the nationalist community.
IRA ‘policing’ was most evident in those areas where it had strongest support. The bulk of this activity involved mediation between those in dispute, and went unreported.
However, the IRA often punished petty criminals, car thieves, burglars and drug dealers. The IRA, inevitably also made mistakes.
Despite the high standards and decency of the vast majority of IRA volunteers, IRA personnel were singularly ill-equipped to deal with these matters. This included very sensitive areas such as responding to demands to take action against rapists and child abusers. The IRA on occasion shot alleged sex offenders or expelled them.
While this may have been expedient at the time it was not appropriate. Victims were left without the necessary social service support and abusers without supervision. It ultimately failed victims and the community alike. That is a matter of profound regret for me, and many other republicans.
But these actions were of their time and reflected not only a community at war but also an attitude within Ireland which did not then understand or know as we now do, how deeply embedded abuse is in our society.
For decades the institutions of both states including successive governments, the RUC, An Garda Siochana, the courts, social services, churches and others did not deal with these matters properly.
Many senior republicans, including me, had major issues with the IRA acting as a policing agency. Martin McGuinness and I are on the public record speaking out against punishment shootings since the 1980s.
This facet of IRA activity was gradually discontinued over a long period as republican activism evolved despite sizeable and understandable opposition in some communities, which were contending with a Loyalist murder campaign alongside British military aggression and ingrained disadvantage and discrimination. They had little patience for anti-social behaviour, drug pushers, death drivers or sexual abusers.
Despite the alienation from the RUC it was the accepted de facto practice that they dealt with traffic accidents, car insurance and such matters. Incidents of rape were also reported to them in some cases and no thinking person would have made a case against that. But many victims or families of victims were reluctant to bring cases of child abuse forward. This was part of the larger problem all society and particularly victims faced at that time. But where a case emerged there was the added problem for some about reporting this to the RUC. They wanted the community or the IRA to take actions.
As society became better informed as to the issue and handling of abuse, republicans began to develop victim centred approaches, ensuring that victims received the necessary supports, counselling and advice.
As Sinn Féin developed our constituency services we also developed our policies in relation to abuse.
I advocated that we direct victims to the Social Services if they did not want to go to the RUC, in the knowledge that the Social Services could go to the RUC. In other words Republicans including the IRA, could not deal with these issues. Sinn Féin would direct people to counselling services and advise victims of legacy issues but we also told everyone that we would report all cases in which children could be at risk to the Social Services or the HSE.
Following the IRA cessation in 1994 and the developing peace process legacy cases of abuse emerged. Many of these are in the public domain. Some involved republicans. My father was an abuser. Some also may have involved IRA volunteers. Those who wish to have these cases dealt with have that right.
The recent publicity surrounding the case of Maíria Cahill has brought this particular issue to the fore in public consciousness. Maíria alleges she was raped, and that the IRA conducted an investigation into this. The IRA has long since left the scene so there is no corporate way of verifying this but it must be pointed out that this allegation was subject to a police investigation, charges were brought against some republicans who strenuously denied Maíria’s allegations. They insist they tried to help her. They were all acquitted by the court.
Maíria has also accused Sinn Féin and me of engaging in a cover up. That is untrue. When I learned of the allegation that Maíria was the victim of rape I asked her grand-uncle Joe Cahill, a senior and widely respected republican, to advise her to go to the RUC. He did this but Maíria did not want to do so at that time.
When Maíria subsequently did go to the police, I co-operated with the police investigation.
Any of the other Sinn Féin representatives named by Maíria have assured me that they at all times sought to support and help her. They advised on counselling, on speaking to her own family or approaching social services or the police. The people she spoke to are decent, thoughtful citizens and compassionate people. There was absolutely no cover up by Sinn Féin at any level.
Sinn Féin has robust party guidelines and processes on the issues of child protection, allegations of sexual abuse and/or sexual harassment, which were adopted by An Ard Chomhairle in 2006 in line with changes to the law.
Sinn Féin adopted New Child Protection Guidelines in 2010, which were produced in consultation with the HSE and Social Services and the PSNI.
Maíria has said that there are other victims who are living in fear, and perpetrators at large who are a danger to children at this time, as a result of how republicans dealt with these issues in the past.
No one should be living in fear and no child should be at risk.
Anyone who has any information whatsoever about any child abuse should come forward to the authorities North or South and they will have the full support of Sinn Féin in so doing.
That includes Maíria Cahill, who says that there are perpetrators at large who are a danger to children at this time. Whatever information she has on this she should give to the appropriate authority.
Healing and rebuilding a society still emerging from conflict demands that many difficult issues will need to be faced up to and dealt with as a necessary part of putting the past behind us.
That will require a huge amount of courage, compassion and humility across our society.
How Republicans dealt with the issue of child abuse should be one of these issues, if that is what victims want. Sinn Féin will accept our responsibility in contributing to the resolution of these wrongs. We are committed to creating a society which is no longer bedevilled or haunted by the legacy of any harm or injustices. Sexual abuse is a challenge which still challenges all sections of modern Irish society.
Looking after all victims and their families is a significant and important part of building a peaceful and just society. And victims include a wider category than those killed or injured as a result of armed actions by any of the protagonists.
It includes those who were brutalised or had their lives limited or adversely affected by growing up in a society scarred by war and the absence of agreed, stable, democratic structures and institutions.
It also includes those badly served or mistreated by the forces of the State and those badly served or mistreated by non-State actors and armed groups, including the IRA.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan will be the grand marshal at the 2015 New York St Patrick’s Day Parade.
He’s from Cavan.
Like recently retired Cardinal Seán Brady.
Just like him.
You’ll recall Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, was the man sent to Ireland in March 2010 by Pope Benedict to lead the Apostolic Visitation to Ireland and examine the country’s four archdioceses in the wake of the sex abuse scandals.
In May of 2012 the New York Times reported Dolan authorised payments of as much as $20,000 to sexually abusive priests – when he was the archbishop of Milwaukee – as an incentive for them to agree to be dismissed from the priesthood.
The documentary Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence In The House of Good documented the crimes of one of those men, Fr Lawrence Murphy, who abused hundreds of deaf children.
You may also recall how the Survivors Network Of Those Abused By Priests reported on October 23, 2013 how:
“[US District Court] Judge Rudolph Randa [yesterday] ruled that a deaf survivor of Fr. Lawrence Murphy is bound by an agreement he reached with church officials even though he was deceived in order to secure that agreement. The agreement was reached in an archdiocesan program designed by [Cardinal Timothy] Dolan in 2003. We believe the purpose of that program was to quickly and quietly settle with victims while deliberately misleading them about the archdiocese’s prior knowledge of the criminal history of abusers. At the same time, it induced victims to accept nominal restitution in exchange for waving all future legal rights. If the victim would later discover they had been deceived by Dolan and the archdiocese, as we now know they were, they would have no legal recourse.”