Monday, August 3, 2009

Clerical Child Abuse Inquiry Bill Jumps From €2.5m to €136m

Original article

THE state inquiry into clerical child abuse could end up costing more than the €128m paid out by the religious orders in compensation payments.

Taxpayers will fork out up to €136m for the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, otherwise known as the Ryan Commission, which was originally expected to cost between €1.9m and €2.5m.

The extensive bill for 10 years of investigative work, culminating in last month's stark Ryan report, could even exceed the €128m the 18 religious orders offered to pay under its 2002 indemnity deal with the Government.


Since then, the Government has paid out over €1.2bn under the redress scheme -- 10 times what the religious orders paid.

The child abuse inquiry was expected to last just two years, but dragged on for 10 years because of delays and legal challenges.

In a new report published yesterday, the Comptroller & Auditor General (C&AG) John Buckley said the €136m estimate covers third-party representation costs of between €52m and €62m, administration costs of €30m, the commission's legal team costs of €15.73m and litigation costs of €2.22m.

It also covers the salaries of the chairpersons of up to €2m, and €8.5m to cover the outlay by the State in responding to the commission's inquiries. Within these costs, €928,582 was paid to "experts" who gave advice, guidance and assistance to the commission.

Two historians were also engaged at a cost of €176,634 to look at the history of the old reform schools and the context in which the institutional abuse took place.

Some €455,925 was paid to a service provider for scanning documents after the commission outsourced the work.

The report also found that a review of the testing of vaccines on children in the relevant religious institutions, which was abandoned, cost over €1m in "non-effective" expenditure. Asked last night if the €136m bill represented value for money, a spokesman for Education Minister Batt O'Keeffe said the C&AG had acknowledged that the work carried out by the Ryan Commission was necessary and valuable.

"It [C&AG report] doesn't, however, attempt to assess the value of the work. The commission's report has fulfilled the purpose for which it was established -- to tell the story of what happened and to make recommendations for the future," the spokesman told theIrish Independent.

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