Justice Sean Ryan: report

THE religious orders' final offer to cover the cost of the residential institutional abuse scandal is more than €200m short of the contribution the government wants it to pay, the Sunday Tribune can reveal.

The orders, which were heavily criticised in the Ryan report, have made a final offer totalling €348m, more than €200m less than what is required to ensure a 50:50 contribution from church and state.

The final bill is expected to reach €1.36bn.

Department of Education officials told the government during a briefing last Tuesday that 16 of the 18 religious orders criticised in the report have made offers of further contributions to the state.

The Sunday Tribune has learned that the final €348m offer is made up of €235m in property transfers to the state, a further €111m in cash payments to be paid over five years and a €2m waiver of rents owed by the state to the orders.

This will bring the total contribution from the orders to €476m which is just over a third of the likely final bill.

While this is a substantial improvement on the initial €128m agreed as part of the controversial indemnity agreed between the church and the government in 2002, it will not satisfy those who argue the orders should foot at least 50% of the overall €1.36bn cost.

The cabinet now has to decide whether it should sign off on this offer or seek a further €200m from the Orders to bring the split up to 50:50.

It will also be looking closely at the property portfolio offered by the orders to assess their value and usefulness. It is likely to look for cash or alternative property if some of the properties do not meet the valuations that the orders have placed on them.

The overall cost of the response to residential institutional abuse scandal is now estimated to exceed €1.36bn. This is made up of the €126m cost of the Ryan commission, the €1.1bn cost of the Redress Board, €10m for indemnity counselling, €12.7m for the Education Finance Board, a body set up to provide education for victims, and a further €110m for a proposed victims' fund.