November 28, 2005

State sues Franciscans for portion of child abuse costs

The Irish Times

Liam Reid, Political Reporter

The State has begun a legal action against the Franciscan Brothers order to force it to pay a proportion of a compensation bill to two men abused by a Franciscan brother at a primary school in the 1970s.

The unprecedented move marks a tougher approach by the State towards church authorities and orders in relation to abuse compensation claims that are not covered by the controversial indemnity deal. The new approach has been instigated by the State Claims Agency, which in September took over the handling of 200 compensation claims from victims of child abuse, mostly relating to primary and secondary schools.

"The State Claims Agency will be protecting the interests of the taxpayer in ensuring that they are not paying out in respect of abuse claims where the abuse has been by committed by members of religious orders, congregations and the church generally," a spokesman for the agency told The Irish Times.

He confirmed that as part of this approach the agency was now pursuing the Franciscan Brothers for costs in relation to compensation claims involving a former brother, John Hannon, who served eight years for child sexual abuse at two schools in the 1970s and 1980s. It was the first time the State had initiated such proceedings against a religious order, he said. The State has admitted partial liability, as the Department of Education was aware of complaints dating back to the early 1970s against Hannon before the two men were abused as boys in Co Offaly. It has now made six-figure compensation payments to both.

Posted by kshaw at November 28, 2005 08:10 AM