Bishops’ Committee on Child Protection responds to ‘Residential Institutions Redress Bill 2001’
The Bishops’ Committee on Child Protection has serious concerns about the Residential Institutions Redress Bill 2001. These concerns were outlined in a submission to Minister Woods on 28th September last.
The Committee shares the Government’s view that those who were harmed as a result of abuse in residential institutions should receive appropriate holistic redress preferably through a non-adversarial system that is fair and just.
However, it is the view of the Bishops’ Committee, which has the full support of the Bishops’ Conference, that the Bill must be amended in order to address a number of serious justice issues, which have been identified:
*The proposed ‘modus operandi’ of the Redress Board (as proposed in the Bill) is seriously flawed in that it does not afford any opportunity to respond to those against whom the most serious allegations can be made. To award compensation on this basis is clearly unjust.
*The Bill in its present form effectively establishes a two-tier system. Those who attended industrial and reformatory schools can apply for compensation. However, others who may have been abused in school or other institutions for which the State also has responsibility are excluded.
*The Bill as currently drafted fails to provide for the validation and proof, to any reasonable degree, of the allegations being made.
The Bishops’ Committee on Child Protection supports the core issues this Bill endeavours to deal with. However, we have immense difficulty with injustice. In a democracy we expect that legislators will never knowingly attempt to deal with one injustice by creating another – this Bill without some detailed amendments is doing just that.
The above concerns were outlined to the Joint Committee on Education and Science at a meeting in Leinster House on 20th November 2001.
20 November 2001
Enquiries to the Bishops’ Committee on Child Protection
Paul Bailey, Executive Director, Child Protection Office
Tel: 01 6016700 Fax: 01 6016698