Irish orders will provide more abuse compensation

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Irish religious orders said on Thursday they would provide more financial compensation to people who were raped and beaten at Catholic-run schools, yielding to public pressure.

Justice Sean Ryan is photographed as he releases the findings of a government report on child abuse to media in the Conrad Hotel in Dublin in this file photo from May 20, 2009. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton

A harrowing report into beatings, rapes and slave labour in Ireland’s now defunct system of industrial and reform schools has shocked the once devout Catholic country and prompted calls for the orders who ran the institutions to offer more compensation.

“The congregations will contribute towards a trust, proposed by An Taoiseach (Prime Minister), and a process has now commenced to establish how this can be achieved,” the orders said in a statement after meeting Prime Minister Brian Cowen.

“Each congregation is fully committed to identifying its resources, both financial and other, within a transparent process, with a view to delivering upon commitments made today.”

In a 2002 deal, the 18 orders’ total contribution to a victims’ redress scheme was capped at 127 million euros (110 million pounds). The total bill is now expected to top 1 billion euros.

In the United States, the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Los Angeles agreed to pay $660 million (407 million pounds) to 500 victims in the largest compensation of its kind.

The religious orders said they would meet Cowen again in two weeks.

Last month’s report, compiled over 9 years, named none of the abusers after a successful legal challenge by the Christian Brothers, which had been the largest provider of residential care for boys in Ireland and runs schools around the world.

A spate of scandals involving sex predator priests has dislodged the Catholic Church from its once pre-eminent position in Irish society but there is anger that many have avoided jail.

The Irish government last month asked the police to examine whether criminal charges can be brought following the report.

Reporting by Carmel Crimmins; editing by Padraic Halpin