Written Answers. - Child Abuse.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

207 Ms O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Science the considerations and assessments which were made by his Department on the projected costs to the State in the context of its agreement with the religious congregations on liabilities with regard to institutional abuse; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2814/03]

The primary consideration of the Government in establishing the redress scheme was to provide justice for people who had been abused in childhood while in residential or insti tutional care and to provide an equitable scheme through which victims could seek redress. The decision to set up the scheme was taken regardless of whether the religious congregations would make a contribution to the scheme. However, the participation of the religious congregations was a Government policy goal because it considered their participation would present an opportunity to bring closure to the issue of past abuse for Irish society as a whole and provide a basis for healing for victims.

It is difficult to put an estimate on the cost to the State. However, the best estimate available prior to the introduction of the redress scheme was €400 million to €500 million based on 4,000 claimants receiving an average award of €100,000 to €125,000. The redress board's awards are based on a study and report of an expert group under the chairmanship of a senior counsel. The group specifically sought to place the awards structure within the context of likely awards of the High Court. The board may make awards of up to €300,000. While it is expected that awards will not in general exceed €300,000, the board has the capacity to award a further 20% as a form of aggravated damages and a further 10% for ongoing medical expenses. As the board may accept applications for a period of three years from the date of establishment final costs to the State cannot be calculated at this time.