Residential Institutions Redress (Amendment) Bill 2011: Second Stage

I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

I am pleased to bring the Residential Institutions Redress (Amendment) Bill 2011 before the House. The Residential Institutions Redress Board, established under the Residential Institutions Redress Act 2002, formed a central part of the range of measures put in place in response to child abuse in residential institutions. Set up as an independent body, the board's purpose is to provide fair and reasonable awards to victims of institutional abuse. While the redress board focuses on the injury suffered by abuse victims, the causes, nature and extent of the abuse were investigated by the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse. The national counselling service was set up to help victims cope with their experiences, while the Origins family tracing service offered assistance to former residents wishing to trace their families of origin. The Educational Finance Board was established to pay grants to former residents and their relatives to assist them in availing of educational services. Funding was also provided to survivor groups for information and referral services. Together these measures constituted a comprehensive response to the revelations of the horror of child abuse in residential institutions.

The publication of the Ryan report in May 2009 shocked the nation, and this House expressed its revulsion at the extent, severity and nature of the abuse suffered by children in residential institutions. The commission's conclusions were unequivocal and damning, finding that:

A climate of fear, created by pervasive, excessive and arbitrary punishment, permeated most of the institutions... Children lived with the daily terror of not knowing where the next beating was coming from... Sexual abuse was endemic in boys' institutions... Children were frequently hungry and food was inadequate, inedible and badly prepared in many schools... A disturbing element of the evidence before the Commission was the level of emotional abuse that disadvantaged, neglected and abandoned children were subjected to generally by religious and lay staff in institutions... Separating siblings and restrictions on family contact were profoundly damaging for family relationships. Some children lost their sense of identity and kinship, which was never recovered.

The publication of the Murphy report into the Cloyne diocese reminds us once again of the horrors of child abuse and has highlighted the need for all involved to accept their role and responsibility. It is in this context that the Government has called on the congregations to meet the costs of the response to residential institutional abuse on an equal basis with the taxpayer. For our part, the failure of the State to protect its vulnerable children is an indictment on us all and it behoves us to ensure it is never repeated.

As others have before me, I acknowledge the courage of all those victims who went to the commission to share their stories of what they endured during their childhood. The Ryan report justified the decision to establish the Residential Institutions Redress Board to compensate survivors outside the court system. Making awards on an ex gratia basis, involving no finding of fault or declaration of liability, the redress board requires a much lower burden of proof than would have been required in court.

The scheme was introduced as an exceptional measure to provide compensation for people who were sent as children to, and who were victims of abuse while resident in, industrial and reformatory schools, orphanages and children's homes in respect of which a public body had responsibilities relating to inspection or regulation. As was acknowledged from the outset, it is not, and was never intended to be, a panacea for every injustice committed on children, rather it is intended to deal with a very particular circumstance. While the Schedule to the Act specified 123 institutions, section 4 enables the Minister for Education and Skills to provide for the insertion into the Schedule of "any industrial school, reformatory school, orphanage, children's home, special school which was established for the purpose of providing education services to children with a physical or intellectual disability or a hospital providing medical or psychiatric services to people with a physical or mental disability or mental illness in which children were placed and resident and in respect of which a public body had a regulatory or inspection function".

In response to requests to include specific institutions, two orders have been made in November 2004 and July 2005, specifying 16 additional institutions bringing the total number of scheduled institutions to 139. As required by the legislation, resolutions approving drafts of these orders were first passed by each House of the Oireachtas.

Religious ethos was not an eligibility criterion and while Catholic religious orders ran the majority of specified institutions, others were managed by other congregations, State bodies, voluntary bodies, management committees or pursuant to trusts. Following the publication of the Ryan report in May 2009, there were a range of demands for the redress scheme to be extended, including demands to include specific institutions and categories of institutions. Having considered these demands, the previous Government announced its decision not to revise the arrangements, in its press statement of 15 April 2010.

To qualify for an award, an applicant must prove his or her identity and establish to the board's satisfaction that he or she was resident in a scheduled institution while under 18 and that he or she was injured while so resident and the injury is consistent with any abuse that is alleged to have occurred while so resident.

Awards are made by the board in accordance with the framework set out in Towards Redress and Recovery, the report of the independent compensation advisory committee which advised on the appropriate levels of compensation. Awards are determined by the board having regard to the severity of the abuse and the severity of physical and psychological injury and loss of opportunity resulting from the abuse. The resultant weightings produce an overall assessment which the board reviews to ensure that it is reasonable in all the circumstances for the particular applicant. The amount of redress payable is then determined according to the redress bands.

Independent legal advice is available to applicants and the vast majority chose to avail of this. It is open to each applicant to accept or reject an award made by the board and the review committee provides an appeal mechanism by which an applicant can seek to have his or her award reviewed. The review committee, which is chaired by Mr. Justice Frank Murphy, can uphold, increase or decrease the amount of the award. Of the awards made to date, 78% were made following settlements with a further 19% made following hearings. The remaining 3% were made following reviews by the residential institutions review committee under the independent appeals mechanism. Applicants may also reject awards. To date, 13 people of more than 13,700 have rejected their awards. Where an applicant does not accept an award, he or she retains the option to pursue any legal avenue which may be open to him or her.

The redress board commenced making awards in May 2003. Wholly independent in the performance of its functions, the board has processed more than 14,600 cases, resulting in more than 13,700 awards to date. The redress board is currently chaired by the Mr. Justice Esmond Smyth. There are ten other members of the board, who are appointed by the Minister and drawn from the legal and medical professions.

In accordance with the terms of the 2002 Act, applicants had a period of three years in which to submit an application to the board. This meant that the closing date for receipt of applications was 15 December 2005, some five and half years ago. However, section 8(2) of the 2002 Act allows the board to extend the period for receipt of an application in exceptional circumstances while section 8(3) requires the board to extend the period when it is satisfied that an applicant was under a legal disability.

At the end of June 2011, the board had received a total of 15,173 applications and had finalised 14,645 cases. Of the total number of applications processed, 13,720 have resulted in awards being made by the board, with the remaining 925 either being refused, withdrawn or resulting in no award. In terms of the late applications, that is, those received after 15 December 2005, a total of 1,540 have been received by the board at the end of June 2011. Of these 725 have been allowed; in 494 cases, the board is awaiting further information to complete the application process; 220 have been disallowed, withdrawn or had the file closed; 36 were not valid applications; and a further 65 remain to be considered by the board.

The average value of the awards made is €63,000. Up to the end of 2010, some 36% of awards were in the first redress band attracting awards of up to €50,000; 49% were in the second redress band attracting awards of between €50,000 and €100,000; 13% were in the third redress band attracting awards of between €100,000 and €150,000; while the remaining 2% of awards were in the fourth and fifth redress bands, attracting awards of between €150,000 and €300,000. The overall cost of the redress scheme had been estimated to reach €1.1 billion and actual expenditure on the scheme and associated litigation reached €1.05 billion at the end of 2010. This figure includes some €836 million in awards made by the board and €158 million in associated medical and legal costs.

As outlined previously, while section 8 of the Act provides for the acceptance of late applications by the board, it is necessary to amend the primary legislation to provide for a final date for the receipt of such applications. The effect of the legislation before the House will be to remove the power of the board to consider applications made on or after 17 September 2011. It also requires the board to advertise this fact, at least six weeks before the effective date, in Iris Oifigiúil, two Irish daily newspapers and two UK daily newspapers.

The Government is satisfied that the redress board, which has been in operation since December 2002, has provided former residents of institutions with a mechanism by which they could obtain fair and reasonable financial compensation for abuses suffered while resident in certain institutions, without the necessity to pursue long and often traumatic cases via the court system. It has been accepting applications for the past eight and a half years, a period which is considered more than adequate for this purpose.

Members will be aware that my colleague, the Minister for Education and Skills, Deputy Ruairí Quinn, recently announced that the Government is proceeding with legislation to provide for the establishment of the residential institutions statutory fund to support the needs of survivors of residential institutional abuse. Such a fund was unanimously endorsed by the House in the period following the publication of the Ryan report. The fund will utilise €110 million of the contributions, essentially the cash element offered by the congregations, and will target support at survivors needs such as counselling services, psychological support services and mental health services, and such health and personal social services, educational services and housing services as the fund may determine.

The fund will also promote understanding of the effects of abuse on former residents among service providers and will evaluate the effectiveness of the approved services in meeting the needs of former residents. To date, €21.05 million of the contributions pledged have been received and lodged in a special interest bearing account in the Central Bank, pending the establishment of the statutory fund. It is hoped that the necessary legislation will be enacted in the autumn session.

The Government strongly believes that the costs of the response to residential institutional abuse should be met on a 50:50 basis by the taxpayer and those responsible for managing the institutions. Both Government parties called for the costs of redress to be shared equally between the State and the religious when the Ryan report was published. The view was adopted by the then Government in 2010 and is a fair and reasonable approach.

The final cost of the response is estimated to be in the region of €1.36 billion. However, the offers from the 18 congregations to date are significantly short of the €680 million needed to meet half of the costs. The Government believes that the transfer of school property currently owned by the congregations offers an opportunity to reach this target. The agreement of the congregations is being sought to a legal mechanism which would ensure that title to school infrastructure properties would be transferred to the State, at the State's request.

In addition, agreement is being sought that title to such properties could not be altered, whether by sale on the open market or by transfer into any trust arrangement, without the prior consent of the Department. The Government is also requesting the congregations to offer to transfer their properties that are currently rented by the State and properties that are identified as being of specific interest to the State. This overall approach aims to ensure that if the State were to seek the transfer of any of the school infrastructure owned by the congregations, it could then do so.

My colleague, the Minister for Education and Skills, has invited the religious congregations to meet him later this month to pursue this goal. At the same time, the management bodies of other institutions included within the redress scheme have also been approached to make a contribution towards the costs involved and their potential to similarly transfer school infrastructure will be explored.

On behalf of the Government, I thank all those involved in the operation of the Residential Institutions Redress Board for their hard work and commitment to the performance of their duty. I look forward to hearing the views of the Members of this House on this important Bill and their assistance in facilitating its early passage into law. I commend the Bill to the House.

I welcome the outline by the Minister of State, Deputy Cannon, of what has been a comprehensive undertaking by the State, in particular by the Department of Education and Skills and the Residential Institutions Redress Board. As the Minister of State indicated, this is a short two section Bill to enable the winding up of the Residential Institutions Redress Board. The board, which has done a considerable amount of good work, was established in December 2002 pursuant to the Residential Institutions Redress Act of the same year. The original closing date for receipt of applications was 15 December 2005. However, prudently, the Government had included section 8 which allowed the redress board to extend the period for receipt of an application in exceptional circumstances and required it to extend the period when it was satisfied that an application was under a legal disability. That measure in the legislation was very good.

The Bill removes the board's power to consider applications made after 16 September 2011. I hope the Government has given final and detailed consideration and that it is satisfied that all potential applications will have been addressed. As the application process has been under way for approximately nine years I hope all outstanding and worthy applications have been dealt with. The importance of the work is clear when one considers the large number of claims and the veracity of the overwhelming majority of the claims based on the high rate of approval. In response to a parliamentary question I tabled I was informed that by the end of May of this year the board had processed 14,592 of the 15,135 applications received. A total of 13,669 awards had been made and the average payment was over €62,000. The value of the scheme, the need for it, and the fact that it was long overdue is evident when one considers that the overall expenditure has already exceeded €1.1 billion.

The Minister of State indicated that the imminent closing date for applications will be advertised in national newspapers and in some British publications as well. I hope the network of Irish communities abroad will be used to ensure that potential applicants are aware of the finalisation of the scheme. In this House and the public service in general we often think an advertisement in a national newspaper, the broadcast media or on the website of the relevant Department or agency is adequate but we must be conscious that everyone does not buy a national newspaper or have access to websites. It is important to use the best possible mechanism to disseminate the information. It is important also that the advocacy groups will be active as well. I am sure they will ensure that any of the people with whom they have been in contact who have not made an application but are potential applicants will be made aware of the closing date for applications. The Department is good at news management and I am sure it will be able to disseminate the information in the relevant print media as well.

The Minister of State, Deputy Cannon, referred briefly to the Commission of Investigation and the Report into the Catholic Diocese of Cloyne. Along with others, I compliment Judge Yvonne Murphy and her colleagues in the commission for their detailed and painstaking work which has given us a very comprehensive report. The report is shocking. I wish to express my shock and outrage at the full horror outlined in it. Deputy Ó Cuív and the Tánaiste referred to the matter in the House this morning. One clear message that emerges from the report is that the State must find a way of hearing victims across the entire country.

There is very little that any of us in this House or any public representative can say that will add to the testimony of the victims whose experiences are laid out in the report. It had to be a very difficult exercise for all who gave their testimony. I compliment those people. It is clear that what was done to those children was shocking; it was awful and it was unforgivable. The report is deeply distressing and it is additionally shocking that these wrongs were not committed in the deep past but in relatively recent times. The effort to cover up the abuse was appalling and the pain and full horror of the abuse of trust will leave people across the country deeply upset and angry, as we are aware from speaking to people.

In January 2009 the Government extended the remit of the Dublin commission of investigation to examine the diocese of Cloyne and the terrible and welcome clarity of the report vindicates the decision to establish the inquiry in the first instance. The challenge for politicians from all parties and for all statutory agencies is to not only ensure that such an intolerable situation can never be allowed to develop again. We must build on the work that has been done and establish a framework to ensure that the voices of victims across the country can be heard. I have only had an opportunity to have a quick perusal of the Cloyne report but the three commissions to date have established the scale of the crimes within three dioceses. The voices of victims from across the country must be heard.

The Minister for Justice and Equality has stated that further investigation should be reviewed on completion of the HSE's audit of dioceses and the national review by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church, both of which have been under way for some time, and when the response of the church to the commission's report can be fully evaluated. I hope those necessary evaluations can be undertaken as early as possible in the autumn and that a further investigation if necessary should be initiated without delay.

We hope further investigations will not be necessary and that the HSE's and the Catholic Church's own reports will be comprehensive, detailed and accurate.

I welcome the measures outlined by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Deputy Frances Fitzgerald, and the Minister for Justice and Equality, and we look forward to getting further details on the initiatives to which they referred yesterday. The Fianna Fáil Party will continue to play its part in a constructive way, building on the work we have done to date and working in the best interests of victims while ensuring their voices are heard. I want to refer to the people who shared their experiences and made the Cloyne report possible. That had to be a difficult task for every individual involved. I also pay tribute to Judge Murphy and her fellow commissioners and all who worked on this particularly distressing report.

Some years ago, society in general would have thought the wrongs that were highlighted were committed in the deep past, but this is clearly not the case, as the Cloyne report indicates to us. The State must ensure the safety of children is not put in danger by any organisation. I welcome the Government's commitment to put the Children First guidelines on a statutory basis. All State agencies must work together with clarity in following and implementing the guidelines. There must be consistency and uniformity across the State and the guidelines must be implemented throughout the country in the best interests of children.

As I mentioned earlier, the remit of the Murphy commission, which investigated clerical abuse in the Dublin archdiocese, was extended to include Cloyne in January 2009 following publication the previous month on the Cloyne diocesan website of a report by the Catholic Church's own child protection watchdog, the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland, which found child protection practices there to be inadequate and in some respects dangerous. The Government at that time asked the commission to investigate the handling of clerical child sexual abuse allegations in Cloyne by church and State authorities between 1 January 1996 and 1 February 2009. The timescale was based on the fact that the church's first published guidelines — its framework document — became operational in January 1996. This again demonstrates the shocking point that the period covered by that investigation is relatively recent.

The establishment of the Residential Institutions Redress Board in 2002 was a welcome development. Its purpose was to provide fair and reasonable financial awards to victims of institutional childhood abuse. I understand from the reply to a recent parliamentary question that the total expenditure approved by the board was €1.008 billion, which included €847 million in awards and €161 million in associated medical and legal costs. My understanding is that the average award was more than €62,000 and the expected expenditure, according to the Minister, is in the region of €1.1 billion. The scope of the work is clearly demonstrated by the fact that a total of 139 institutions were included in the Schedule of specified institutions to the Residential Institutions Redress Act 2002.

As public representatives, we have all been contacted by individuals who made application to the redress board or by different groups advocating on their behalf. The people who spoke to me had really distressing stories to tell, and this was the first time an opportunity had been given to them to tell their story to an agency that would listen to them — and, indeed, to the State. That process was long overdue and badly needed.

I trust the Minister and the Government, in deciding to introduce this legislation, are satisfied that this project, as such, is nearing completion and that deserving cases will not be denied their rights. I hope the Minister, in replying on Second Stage, will be able to reassure us in that regard.

The redress board was established under the Residential Institutions Redress Act 2002 to make fair and reasonable awards to persons who, as children, were abused while resident in industrial schools, reformatories and other institutions subject to State regulation or inspection. The board set about its work, dealing with applications in the strictest confidence and conducting all its hearings in private. At the time of its establishment, the board clearly specified who would be entitled to apply for redress. It stated that if a person was resident in an industrial school, reformatory school, children's home, special hospital or similar institution while under the age of 18 and was subjected to sexual, physical or emotional abuse or serious neglect while resident in that institution, that person would be entitled to compensation. The residential institutions listed in the Schedule to the Act were all over the country.

The provision in the original Act to enable the board to accept late applications was obviously a good and prudent one. Five years further on from the original deadline, a further 1,260 applications had been submitted. The Bill setting up the board was published by the then Department of Education and Science in June 2001, just two years after the then Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, apologised to victims of physical and sexual abuse in reformatories and industrial schools for which the State had responsibility. That apology, on 9 May 1999, followed the broadcast of a television series dealing with these important and distressing issues. The legislation was described at the time as a Bill providing for the setting up of a residential institutions redress board which would pay appropriate compensation to successful applicants without the need for court appearances. Importantly, at that time, it was decided that the amount of compensation to be paid out by the redress board would be open-ended. It was not a case of dividing a finite amount of money by the total number of successful applications. I have heard criticisms from some quarters that the numbers who made successful applications to the board far exceeded the original estimate. In fairness to the Departments and agencies involved, it would have been extremely difficult to estimate with any accuracy the likely participation in such a scheme. Of course, the establishment of the scheme was the catalyst in informing people of their rights and their entitlement to compensation.

I understand an expert committee was established to decide on the types of payment to be made, depending on the severity and extent of the abuse and its long-term effects upon the victim. It was also appropriate that provision was made to have interim payments on hardship grounds. The expert committee quite rightly stated the redress board would have to operate with sensitivity and flexibility in processing applications, and I trust this has happened.

At the time, the then Minister stated the experts' report provided a sound basis for a fair system of financial awards to people who suffered injury as a result of abuse while in care. He further added that the State incarcerated people in those institutions for very flimsy reasons — being born out of wedlock, being absent from school, or being an orphan. That background to the admission, including the compulsory admission, of so many people to institutions is shocking. Those innocent people were being admitted to dark and grey institutions, and many suffered for years. I remember speaking to a former resident of an institution in Dublin. He recalled the horrors to which he was also subjected when he was employed by private employers at Easter and Christmas and during the summer. Sadly, abuse was perpetrated in the private sector and in the community by some heartless and terrible employers.

In January 2003, the advertising campaign commenced, urging victims of institutional abuse to make contact with the redress board that had been established to assess compensation claims. My recollection is that there were radio and television advertisements and also advertisements in the print media. I know that some time later there was concern that the campaigns had not reached out adequately to the Irish population in Britain.

Many efforts were made to ensure members of that community were fully informed of the purpose of the scheme, its extent and the mechanisms to make an application to it. I also recall the various advocacy groups addressing the education committee about their experiences and assisting in getting the message out to those affected. It is hoped that information dissemination has been as successful and comprehensive as possible.

Applications for the compensation scheme exceeded the Government's original estimates less than a year into its operation. The advertising campaigns undertaken in late 2003 in Australia and the United States were adequate. I hope the relevant Irish networks in all those countries were used to bring this information to potential applicants. I note that in December 2005 one of the advocacy groups had sought an extension of three months for the deadline to submit applications. A practical and understanding approach has been taken with the completion of the scheme.

In May 1999, the then Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, stated on behalf of the State that the Government wished to make a sincere and long overdue apology to the victims of child abuse. Too many children, he stated, had been denied the love, care and security to which they were entitled. He also said that abuse had ruined their childhood and had been an ever-present part of their adult lives. He emphasised that the Government believed they were gravely wronged and the State must do all it could to overcome the lasting effects of their ordeals.

Those statements by the Taoiseach were long overdue on the part of the State. Substantial numbers of late applications arose following the publication of the Ryan report in 2009. The then Government and the Dáil called on the religious congregations to make further substantial contributions by way of reparation. Considerable work was undertaken by an independent panel and the former Government outlined that the overall cost of the response to residential institution abuse should be shared on a 50-50 basis between the taxpayer and those responsible for those residential institutions. I hope the Minister for Education and Skills can make quick progress in resolving these outstanding issues.

In April 2010, the then Government announced its proposals to use €110 million of the offers of contributions to be made by the religious congregations to establish a statutory fund. A wide-ranging consultation process was undertaken with the survivor groups and the congregations with views on the scope of the fund widely sought. A diverse range of proposals were enunciated by the different groups.

An issue discussed in the House previously was the method of disposal of documentation gathered as a result of the work of the redress board. It is absolutely essential the records of the board are safeguarded and the privacy of applicants is not breached. Maintaining these records and maybe necessary access to them is an issue that needs to be dealt with in a confidential and sensitive manner.

The Ryan report made many recommendations such as the erection of a memorial and the provision of counselling, educational and family tracing services. Subsequently, an implementation plan for 99 specific recommendations was drawn up by the then Government. Will the Minister of State outline the extent of the implementation of these recommendations? I hope they are being implemented actively.

The provision of educational services for former residents is important. The Education Finance Board will be replaced under the new statutory fund. Have all the views of the different stakeholders been taken into account? Funding must also continue for the provision of counselling services, Barnardos providing its family-tracing service and the various outreach groups in Britain. This will ensure beneficial and effective support is given to those former residents. A range of views on the funding issue were expressed by the various advocacy groups at a 2010 meeting with the then Taoiseach. Will the Minister outline what progress has been made on these issues?

Survivors from Bethany Home have been active in putting forward their case to Members to be included in the redress scheme. Only a short time ago many Labour Party Members were their great advocates. Has any progress been made with the requests of this particular group?

Will provision be made in either legislation or regulation to ensure genuine and exceptional cases that arise subsequent to the final application dates can still be processed? If a statutory agency is dissolved but its functions need to be activated, the parent Department can assume them. If a provision in this regard is not contained in the Bill I am sure it could, if the Government were willing, be included in the legislation relating to the residential institutions statutory fund which, as the Minister of State indicated, is due to be published in the autumn.

The Residential Institutions Redress Board has done extremely important work. I compliment the chairman of the board, Mr. Justice Esmond Smyth, and everyone else who participated in the work to which I refer. I also compliment the advocacy groups and the many public representatives who worked with individuals and tried to assist them in dealing with an extremely difficult issue. Thankfully, the funding provided has been of great help in assisting people to return to some form of normality in their daily lives.

I wish to share time with Deputy McDonald.

The Minister of State referred to the commission's conclusions and listed some of them as follows:

Children lived with the daily terror of not knowing where the next beating was coming from ... Sexual abuse was endemic in boys' institutions ... Children were frequently hungry and food was inadequate, inedible and badly prepared in many schools ... A disturbing element of the evidence before the Commission was the level of emotional abuse that disadvantaged, neglected and abandoned children were subjected to ... Separating siblings and restrictions on family contact were profoundly damaging for family relationships.

The one aspect of this matter which all the reports that have been compiled in recent years do not reflect is the hurt the people who were placed in the various institutions endured and the difficulties they have experienced in the context of trying to come to terms with what happened to them when they were children.

I was a Member of the Houses when the Residential Institutions Redress Board was originally established and I recall speaking to many of the victims and to the groups which represent them. I have never seen so many adults crying. A number of individuals who worked in the Oireachtas informed me that they had also gone through the institutions in question. Everyone to whom I spoke had a story to tell. All of these people talked about their frustration regarding the inadequacy of the process relating to the investigation of what occurred in the various institutions.

What the House is doing today — by means of the Bill before it — is stating that the board has done its work and that it is time to move on. I am of the view that the redress board, which has many flaws, still has work to do. The Minister of State indicated that the effect of the legislation will be to remove the power of the board to consider applications made on or after 17 September 2011. He also stated that the board has been "accepting applications for the past eight and a half years, a period which is considered more than adequate for this purpose".

The Minister of State's comments come against the background of the publication of the Murphy report into the diocese of Cloyne. One of the people who is quoted in that report refers to the fact that it took her 40 years to come forward and tell her story. The redress board has only been in place for eight and a half years and now the Government is stating that its work is done. There is something wrong with the process in this regard. As Deputy Smith's comments indicate, everyone is concerned in respect of this matter. Is it time the board concluded its work or should we make allowances for that work to continue?

The redress board is supposed to be about more than giving people compensation. It was supposed to be motivated by compassion and concern for those who were abused while under the care of the State. In addition, it was one way of obtaining recognition for those who suffered such dreadful abuse. The board was established three years after the "State of Fear" television documentary was broadcast. The latter caused widespread public outrage and gave rise to the then Taoiseach issuing an apology. At that time I was amazed by the number of public representatives who stated that they were not aware of what had happened. I grew up in Dublin and before I ever became an elected representative I was aware of young people who had been through certain institutions. All of those individuals had stories to tell in respect of their experiences.

I am of the generation of people who were hit with leather straps, canes and fists while attending school. However, my experience pales in comparison to those of the people who went through the institutions in question. I recall speaking to one woman whose sons attended one of these institutions as day pupils. The suffering and emotional and sexual abuse those boys endured was not considered by the redress board. The woman in question informed me that she was a cleaner at the particular school which her sons attended and that she was always struck by fact that the children there were all extremely sad. She said that all she wanted to do was put her arms around them and hug them. She also indicated that she thought that all that was wrong with them was the fact that they needed someone to love them. Unfortunately, it later emerged that the children at the school were being sexually, emotionally and physically abused. She did not discover until many years later that her two sons were physically, mentally and sexually abused while they attended the school.

When the woman to whom I refer spoke to me, she cried because there was no recognition in respect of what she had endured. She was not seeking compensation — all she wanted was some form of recognition to the effect that what happened was not her fault. Neither the redress board nor the system we established provided an avenue for that women and the many other parents like her to seek recognition for their awful plight.

The report on the Cloyne diocese does not relate to the distant past, it refers to recent events. The scandal in respect of the reports into the events at Cloyne, Ferns and elsewhere is that the relevant entity which ran the institutions in question protected itself with regard to the abuse, etc., which occurred in those institutions. It was considered more important that the reputation of the entity be protected. Unfortunately, the State has taken a similar approach during this entire process. Deputy Smith referred to what occurred at the Bethany Home. A woman who suffered neglect and serious injury while in the Morning Star hostel and who protested outside the gates of this institution for 18 months — she even went on hunger strike at one point — was not granted recognition under the redress board. Many people have been affected by what occurred in these institutions.

As already stated, granting compensation is not the sole purpose for which the redress board was set up. I have a number of criticisms regarding the process under which it was established. It is clear that the amount of money some people received in respect of the abuse they endured was inadequate. Individuals who brought their cases to the High Court received huge settlements. The barristers and solicitors who took these people's cases made massive amounts of money. However, many of those who were affected by what occurred in these institutions could not take proceedings in the High Court. The redress board was meant to cater for such individuals but many difficulties arose in respect of the way it operated.

The main point I wish to make relates to why the redress board's work is being brought to an end now. The board has only been in operation for eight and a half years. The report into the diocese at Cloyne took ten years to complete. The Minister of State referred to placing advertisements in certain newspapers in Britain and indicated that the wider diaspora throughout the world would also be informed in this way with regard to the fact that the board's work is coming to an end. When the Ryan report was published in 2009, many of the Irish centres in Britain were inundated with queries from people seeking to discover how they might obtain redress. The figures indicate that many applications for redress are still being processed.

According to Right of Place, at least 150,000 children and teenagers went through orphanages, industrial schools and centres for young offenders, with many suffering abuse at the hands of religious orders and others in charge of their care. An estimated 100,000 left Ireland afterwards. At least half of these individuals are believed to have travelled to the US but only a fraction of them are thought to be aware of the existence of the redress board. I do not want to be approached a year from now by someone stating he or she did not know about what is proposed in the Bill. I am sure there are people in Australia and other countries who do not have a clue about what is happening. It will be wrong if those individuals are denied a means by which they can tell their stories.

Some survivors' groups have talked about the level of compensation, but the main issue is that they want recognition of what happened to them so that they can move on from that. The difficulty I have with the legislation is that there is a cut-off date, but perhaps on Committee Stage the Minister can expand on or explain how individuals who have been left out of the loop with regard to this redress and recognition can be part of it.

I welcome the fact that the Minister is seeking 50% compensation contributions from the religious orders. At the time the decision was made, I and many others believed it was a shoddy deal and a bad deal for Irish taxpayers. I also have difficulties with regard to many of the religious orders. My colleague, Deputy Ó Caoláin, revealed recently that three out of the four orders have received a total of €87 million from the HSE in the past five years alone. Reports have also disclosed the extent of the orders' property dealings during the so-called boom years. For example, the Sisters of Mercy made €165 million in land sales and the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity earned €61.8 million from the lands surrounding the mass grave of the Magdalene victims discovered in 1993. The contrast between these sums and the funds made available to the laundry survivors could not be starker. They received no pay for their years of forced labour, are in receipt of no pension and were excluded from claiming from the Residential Institutions Redress Board. Is there another mechanism the Minister will consider in that regard? We accept it as a given that there have been many good people in the religious orders and no one wants to bankrupt those elderly religious who have no pension or to take funds away from people in the last years of life. Clearly, there must be some balance in that regard.

The State has a huge responsibility as the representative guardian of the interests of the citizens of Ireland to ensure that victims of institutional abuse are given every opportunity to seek meaningful restitution. The fear is that the winding up of the redress scheme will prevent this from happening. I urge the Minister to reconsider this Bill and to consider ensuring the following: that there be recognition from the State that victims have been wronged; that there be a public apology to all the victims; that a statutory compensation scheme mechanism will ensure appropriate levels of compensation that accord with the values of compensation obtained in the courts system; that a report and recommendation are issued and implemented in order to ensure that mistakes of the past cannot be repeated; that necessary health care treatments are provided to persons affected; that legislation is enacted to prevent a repetition of such a health care catastrophe; and that a mechanism is established to recognise what happened in the Magdalene laundries.

My concern with regard to this set-up is that people will turn up down the line who have been left out. The Minister of State said that eight and a half years is long enough, but we know that for some people who suffered through those awful days, eight, ten, 20 or 30 years will not be enough. What is to be done? Should everything be put on hold? There should be some mechanism for those people to get some kind of recognition when it suits them, not when it suits the State. We need to consider that. Despite the financial difficulties facing the country, we owe these people. We owe them answers. We turned our backs on them in the past and I believe that through this Bill we turn our backs on them again.

No matter how often the issue of abuse in institutions, including religious institutions, is discussed, it is almost impossible not to be shocked and horrified all over again by the kind of nihilistic viciousness that was visited on so many innocent children, whose only crime was to be born poor, to a single parent or to be orphans. After so many years of dealing with the tragic aftermath of the systemic and endemic abuse of women and children in religious and State institutions, it is almost impossible to understand why there any survivors whose abuse has yet to be acknowledged or accepted by the State.

The debate surrounding the proposed residential institutions statutory fund highlights yet again the State's failure to tackle fully the scale and the depth of the wrong it committed against women and children over so many decades. Some survivors, even those who have received awards from the redress board, continue to feel abandoned and disenfranchised. It is important we understand that support, services and redress are ongoing commitments of the State to the children and women it failed to protect.

Some hard lessons have been learned and the Government's commitment yesterday, following the publication of the Cloyne report, to do everything it can to make sure the State is doing all it can to protect children is welcome. I note that the commission of investigation into the Catholic diocese of Cloyne is not convinced the State's laws and guidelines are sufficiently strong and clear to protect children. The commitment of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs to address this shortfall through promised legislation, enhanced co-operation from Departments and better use of existing regulations is a positive response. However the new Government's response to the Cloyne report is starkly at odds with its response to the abuse of women and children in the Bethany home and at Magdalene laundries.

The continued exclusion of Bethany Home from the redress board is wrong and the Minister for Education and Skills, Deputy Quinn's, recent rationale for maintaining this exclusion does not stand up to scrutiny. The Minister restates the position that Bethany Home did not come within the scope of the redress scheme as it operated as a mother and baby home. However, St. Patrick's mother and baby home, a Roman Catholic-run institution, was added to the redress scheme in 2004. The charge of sectarianism is a hard one for the Government to shake off. The Minister goes on to state that the redress scheme was specifically designed to deal with abuse in a range of residential institutions for which public bodies had responsibility. Between 1924 and 1965 the courts referred women to Bethany Home. Statutory inspection of maternity homes began in 1934 and Bethany Home registered in 1935. As far back as 1939, standards of care were reported within the Department with responsibility for local government and public health and public criticism of Bethany Home was published in The Irish Times. There is an ocean of evidence to illustrate the State’s neglect to adequately protect these women and children for whom it was ultimately responsible.

In 1939, the State's deputy chief medical officer ignored the advice of a departmental inspector who wanted a Bethany Home nurse prosecuted for severe neglect. Not only did the medical officer brush off the high rate of infant mortality with a shamefully ignorant view that it was a well known fact illegitimate children were delicate, but he then went on declare that Bethany Home's problem was that it was converting Catholics to Protestantism. On that basis, on his final visit to the home it was agreed that Catholics would no longer be admitted to it. The price paid by the children the State failed to protect during this time is heartbreaking. The graves of 219 children who died there between 1922 and 1949 were found in Mount Jerome cemetery in Dublin last year. Some 54 of those children died from convulsions, while a further 41 died from heart failure and 26 from malnutrition.

The Minister of State with responsibility for equality issues, Deputy Kathleen Lynch, was absolutely correct when, as an Opposition Member, she said last May:

I believe that the Bethany Home should be included within the Irish Government's redress scheme so that people who suffered the horrors of abuse in the institution, on the wink and nod of the State, can be afforded the reparations that they deserve.

Survivors have described how the State did nothing to prevent children in that institution being sent to dysfunctional families in the State and in the Six Counties, chosen solely for religious purposes rather than child welfare-centred criteria. Again, the State stood by and let this happen.

The Minister knows all of this, which is what makes his refusal to reverse Fianna Fáil's decision to exclude the Bethany Home from the redress scheme all the more unfathomable. My colleague, Deputy Seán Crowe, has submitted an amendment to the Bill which would extend the closing date for applications to 2013. This would facilitate survivors of the Bethany Home in seeking redress, assuming the Government reverses its decision to exclude them from the remit of the redress board.

The plight of the survivors of the Magdalene laundries must also be addressed urgently. Evidence given recently on behalf of the State to the UN Committee against Torture regarding what went on in these institutions was nothing short of shameful and disgraceful. Fortunately, the ensuing pressure on the Government persuaded it finally to set up a statutory investigation into allegations of torture against women and children in the laundries. The interdepartmental committee, chaired by Senator Martin McAleese, to establish the facts of the State's involvement with the Magdalene laundries and to produce a narrative detailing such interaction is a step in the right direction, but only a single step. The refusal to date of the Minister for Justice and Equality, despite numerous requests, to publish the interdepartmental committee's terms of reference is again deeply disappointing. Concerns remain following the State's evidence to the UN Committee against Torture that the interdepartmental committee's investigation will not include acts of omission.

Survivors of Magdalene laundries need and deserve a separate redress mechanism. These women and children were incarcerated in institutions, often for a lifetime, and the State knowingly failed them. When in opposition, the Minister voiced his criticism of the previous Government's treatment of the Magdalene survivors. The Government is now in a position to right this wrong on behalf of the State.

I propose to share time with Deputies Clare Daly, Mattie McGrath and Thomas Pringle.

When Shakespeare's Hamlet remarked that there was "something rotten in the state of Denmark" he could well have been talking about several institutions in this country, including the Catholic Church, banking and education, which have let people down horrendously. This Bill should never have been required in a so-called Christian and civilised country. The abusive treatment of children in institutions represents one of the darkest periods in our history. It is difficult to find words adequate to describe the pain, horror, grief and incomprehension experienced by children over many years. The natural order is for children to trust that adults will protect and support them. Instead, these young people suffered physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. They were starved of love and affection, sometimes physically starved, deprived of their right to education, sexually assaulted, beaten and used as slave labour. Families were torn apart, with people often never seeing their children, siblings or parents again.

Those who survived these institutions continue to live with the trauma and are scarred in many ways by their experience. Of course there are some who managed to move on and are leading fulfilling lives, but many others are barely coping. Some have ended up homeless, for example, or have turned to alcohol and drugs to cope with their pain. Some have become abusive themselves in their own relationships, have accrued massive debts or have even chosen to end their lives. However, the pain does not stop with those who directly experienced abuse. In the north inner city we are seeing the impact on the next generation, with the children of abused survivors equally turning to drugs, alcohol and suicide.

Reading the Cloyne and other reports, it is understandable that those who were abused might wish for all priests, nuns and religious brothers to be wiped off the face of the earth. However, it is important to acknowledge the good work done by people in religious life, both in this country and abroad. One need only consider the activities of Br. Kevin Crowley and Fr. Peter McVerry in looking after the homeless in this city or Sr. Concilio's work with those battling addiction. As someone who was taught by a religious order and has worked with members of religious orders, I find it difficult to comprehend how some of their number will not accept and acknowledge what was done in the past by their congregations and that instead of doing what is right by those who suffered horribly, they are hiding behind loopholes and legal jargon.

The redress board was set up with good intentions to make fair and reasonable awards to persons who were abused as children in residential institutions. The list of institutions is extensive, but we must acknowledge that not all residents were abused and that there were some who experienced kindness and support. Nevertheless, the board's findings have been very disturbing, with revelations that young children were put into these institutions for the most flimsy of reasons such as being born out of marriage, being orphaned or having missed school. Also disturbing is the amount paid to legal firms for their services to the board. I am not questioning the need for legal expertise, but the amounts involved are staggering, with some firms earning millions from their work. Equally, without taking from their work, a daily rate of €800 for board members is mind-boggling.

The word "redress" means to remedy or rectify a wrong and grievance; to readjust or set straight; to make reparation; or to restore equality. No legislation, no system and no amount of money can do all of that. I wonder whether we can ever remedy, rectify, readjust or set straight the harm done to these people. Can we as a society ever make adequate reparation for the wrong done? Applying to the redress board means opening up painful wounds and, for some, this has been a positive process. For others, however, the ordeal is too much. I have met survivors whose pain is being exacerbated by the media coverage. I was particularly saddened on meeting a man who was horrifically abused and whose only escape or relief is watching television. The coverage of the various abuse scandals brought everything back to him and I am sure the latest reports are once again depriving him of his only means of escape.

In 2005, the Government, in response to calls from groups representing victims of institutional abuse, extended the deadline for the receipt of applications for compensation. The proposal in this Bill to set a new deadline is supported by some of these groups. However, it is somewhat disquieting that a time limit for compensation is being imposed given that there is no time limit on the pain and suffering of victims. People cope in different ways and need varying lengths of time to deal with their grief and pain. Some have been slow to come forward as a result of personal problems or a lack of awareness that the institution in which they resided is included or that the board's remit extends beyond the consideration of those who suffered sexual abuse.

The Kennedy report was published in 1970, but some of the institutions dealt with it in that report continued in operation until 1990. It is horrifying to realise that people continued to suffer long after the suffering should have been brought to an end. The Cloyne report makes the same point, that procedures were in place but were not used, with the result that more people suffered needlessly.

Another disturbing aspect of this issue is the extent of the contribution from the religious orders. The question of the inclusion of the Bethany institution must also be dealt with to the satisfaction of those who resided there. The proposals regarding the residential institution statutory fund are a cause for concern.

The Minister states that it should target resources at services to support former residents' needs — counselling, psychological services, mental health services, education, housing etc. While that is positive for many, there are some who are critical of this and their views must be considered also. I understand there is a petition on this. We must listen to those who are hurt. We cannot be judge and jury on what is good for them. We cannot make them fit into our neat box of recovery. The trust fund may be the mechanism needed for many survivors, but we have to listen to those whose needs are not being addressed by it.

I cannot speak on this Bill today without referring to the Justice for Magdalenes group. I wish to acknowledge the painstaking work of the group with Dr. Jane Smith and others. These women endured abusive and degrading treatment and I sincerely hope that the recent decision will bring about what the Justice for Magdalenes group has been requesting for many years and for far too long. Central to that is the principle of restorative justice and a failure by our institutions to protect the constitutional and human rights of citizens. These women can never be compensated adequately. They are owed so much and it is time to take this matter in hand.

I ask that this institution and the religious institutions do what is right by those who have suffered.

The background to this change in the legislation is the fact that the State has spent upwards of €1.8 billion on the victims of abuse at the hands of the religious orders in schools and institutions. It is somewhat ironic that we are having this debate against the backdrop of the publication of the Cloyne Report. It is true that a considerable amount of money was expended to produce this report, but the cost to the State in this instance is primarily because of the shoddy deal done by Fianna Fáil in government and the religious orders, allowing many of them off the hook. Significant legal fees were claimed also. It is not a great deal of money when one considers what the thousands of victims have been put through by the severe trauma of abuse and the lifetime of carrying emotional and physical scars from the abuse they experienced in their early years. I think it is relevant that we are discussing this Bill at the same time as the publication of the Cloyne Report. As Deputy O'Sullivan has said this is another report, opening up the wounds of so many victims. We see it from the increased numbers accessing the helplines to seek assistance. What that really tells us is that in the context it is not appropriate to put a deadline on these cases of preventing people from having access to the Redress Board because there are some people who will not be aware but others may not be in a position to deal with the issues, even after all these years. They still need time, given the severity of the trauma and people not dealing with it. To pick an arbitrary date is in my mind unacceptable.

It is worth talking about the money involved when this is being motivated by limiting costs. Let us look at the costs that were incurred in the publication of the Cloyne Report, €140 million in investigating one diocese. It has been estimated that if they were to investigate all of the dioceses the cost would run to billions. What is the point of these reports? It really is a bit of sick joke at this stage. We know what went on, we have had so many reports it is clear the abuse that took place, but when was anybody prosecuted or called to account arising from these reports and in that sense what is the point in incurring more expense on those reports? These are criminal matters. The State should be spearheading the justice system to deal with them, but not one person has been dealt with in that regard. If the State wants to save money, it should be saved by not commissioning reports and insisting that the State take action against those criminally responsible for those activities.

The reality is that the abuse scandals are embedded in the history of the State and with its links with the Catholic Church, in particular. The Catholic Church has played a dominant and influential role in Irish society over the decades from the drawing up of the Constitution to the running of schools and hospitals. It is not enough to say that the church bears sole responsibility for that situation. The State is absolutely culpable in that regard. The State bent the knee, quite happy to see children, the elderly the sick given over to the church, saving the State a fortune in that regard. The church was allowed to hide the unwanted, those for whom nobody wanted to take responsibility and the State did not give a damn about what happened to those people. There is no appropriate level of compensation or money that can undo the harm that was done to those people but the least we can do is give them some recognition, some apology and some assistance in their later years. Rather than shutting the door, there is a very strong argument, as other Deputies suggested, for amending the legislation in order to extend it to other victims who as yet have been outside the loop and have suffered just as much, those in the Magdalene laundries and those in institutions run by the Church of Ireland, such as the Bethany Home. I think it is galling and I do not know how Deputies in the Fine Gael and Labour Party Government have the nerve, having made public statements while in opposition, to now do the complete opposite. I am seriously embarrassed for them. This is yet another example of it. The then Opposition parties gave clear commitments on these issues and now when they have the opportunity in government to do something about it, they are walking away from it.

I will not repeat all the points made by other Deputies but there is no debate about the issue of the Magdalene laundries or the Bethany Home. There is irrefutable evidence that the State and the courts colluded in sending women to the Magdalen laundries, who suffered horrendous treatment there and whose lives have been blighted by what happened to them. We know the Government had contracts for work done by those unpaid slaves. Similarly, contrary to previous statements that the Bethany Home was a private mother and baby home and had nothing to do with the State, has been proved wrong with irrefutable evidence that the State was responsible for sending young women to these institutions and causing the horrific harm that has been outlined by other Deputies. I fully support the inclusion of the victims of those organisations under the redress scheme. Together with other Deputies, I support the idea of a statutory old age pension that would include the years worked in the laundries when contributions were not submitted as required under the Act, entitlements and other benefits due to the unpaid workers in those laundries. Obviously a lump sum in lieu of those years of unpaid labour should be paid in compensation. At this stage it is horrific that only a couple of hundred women are in this situation. It will hardly break the bank. These women more than earned that money and are entitled to it.

Similarly, the points have been well made about the Bethany Home, and I do not wish to repeat them but I fully agree with them. I agree with the points made about the statutory trust fund. There must be some element of discretion in terms of how some people get compensation. I think an area that will come under this remit, which will not be closed off with the residents of Magdalene laundries and the Bethany Home is the illegal activity which took place in the 40 mother and baby homes which were closed in 1972, the largely church-run institutions where hundreds of children were illegally adopted and where birth registrations were illegally carried out. The lives of some people are blighted when they set out to seek their parents. The name of their biological mother was never entered on the birth certificate and they were given the names of their adoptive parents, as their biological parents. The State is trying to claim that this is a private matter. That is false. These mother and baby homes which were run by the religious orders, were paid a per capita sum by the State for the numbers that they catered for. The nuns supposedly gave these fallen women a roof over their head and in return these women effectively worked as slaves, in laundries, kitchens and farms of these institutions, often being required to look after their children for a number of years before the children were adopted. Many of those people have been in touch with me recently. It is a crime to falsify the registration of a birth, but there is documented proof that false registration was carried out and facilitated by adoption agencies, some of which are still accredited by the Adoption Board today.

The HSE has files of the agencies that have ceased to operate. It says it can make the files available to those who want to investigate and find their birth parents but in practice it is not happening. We were contacted last week by a gentleman who was adopted from the Bessborough Care Centre, Cork, which was closed in the late 1970s. The HSE will not give access to the files on that case. Many people have spent tens of thousands of euro trying to access what should be available from a freedom of information request. It is criminal. We are paving the way to have another layer of people, who already are abuse victims, whose needs have not been calculated in this situation.

This is an area that must be included. The Adoption Board must be proactive and the HSE also has a role to play. Ultimately, the State was culpable in colluding with the church and the role given to the church in Ireland allowed it to operate as a state within the State. It is the clearest example of why we need to have a defined separation of church and State, which must also be part of this process.

I am pleased, if one can call it pleased, to speak on this serious issue. I feel a responsibility to speak on this. Children born into disadvantage or born out of wedlock ended up in homes and we now know about the horrors that went on there. Previous speakers referred to the need for balance. We need balance and we need to be calm on this issue. The State must recognise the victims were seriously wronged and it must, above all, ensure any future legislation will be watertight. We must acknowledge the State's abject failure to protect those children. Some of the victims have now moved on and are living fulfilling lives but many suffer from depression, alcohol-related issues and drug addiction. Many of them have struggled to build a semblance of a normal life.

I welcome the new Minister for Children and Youth Affairs and her commitment to change in this matter. I also wish the Minister of State, Deputy Cannon, the best in his portfolio. I know it is difficult when one was in opposition a short time ago. I refer to the Minister of State, Deputy Kathleen Lynch, and Deputy Joe Costello, who supported some of the people who wanted to have their cases heard by the redress board. The redress board was set up with the best bona fides, like many other boards and institutions. I acknowledge the bona fides of many thousands of decent, hard-working, honest nuns, brothers and priests who give so much to education, on missions and doing other good work. I mention Sister Veronica, who set up the Aislinn Centre in Ballyragget. We cannot throw out the baby with the bathwater. Any wrong must be rightly condemned but we cannot allow ourselves to get carried away and to deem them all to be bad.

The fees paid to legal firms under the redress board are scandalous. The fees for 12 board members amounted to €800 a day, even though it has been cut back somewhat. These fees were paid when there were also paid staff. I am not trying to lessen the impact of work they had to do but I condemn out of hand those sums. None of the people on the board are lay people or ordinary people, all of them come from the legal profession or academia. We seem to have lost sight of what ordinary volunteers can contribute to this country and that iswrong.

The arbitrary date for the conclusion is almost callous. There must be fair play and enough time although I know a lot of time has been given. Perhaps some people were not aware and were unable to get in on time.

Let Our Voices Emerge represents those falsely accused of abuse, such as ex-nun Nora Wall. The organisation believes the board is too ready to pay out to applicants and that many claimants are either lying about what happened to them or exaggerating. I will not justify that or condemn it but I know Nora Wall and I know what happened. It was outrageous and we must be careful about going into hysterics and undue investigations. That case was brought to court and I was appalled by the actions of certain members of the Garda Síochána in Dungarvan who investigated the case.

I am also appalled to hear about the retiring superintendent Tom O'Grady. The carry-on that went on was outrageous and thankfully, on appeal after being sentenced, that woman was freed to live some semblance of a normal life after the stigma of conviction. We must be fair and balanced because there are countless victims, which is outrageous. I fully support victims but we cannot have people hijacking the board.

A former county councillor and the ex-mayor of Clonmel was on several TV stations condemning what happened to him in his time at Ferryhouse. When he was mayor of Clonmel, he offered a civic reception to the brothers and praised them to the high heavens. I do know how he can be carrying on in the media. I ask the media to be fair and responsible. He attacked the brothers a few years later when it suited him and he received the opportunity of using television and being involved. He wanted to be on the redress board and to be paid to work as an advocate. Some of those for whom he worked are not happy with what happened. We need balance. These are the facts on the record. A civic reception was rightly afforded to the brothers. He was a man who was elected and was a sensible man. How did that turnaround come about? I am concerned about these issues.

Regarding the Cloyne report, what went on is appalling but I do not want people jumping on the bandwagon and condemning every religious order and every member of the religious. There are so many good people who are friends of mine and who work in leadership roles in communities and work under the constant strain of the cloak that has come over all orders. All of us have a sense of shame about what happened but we need balance. Regarding the Garda investigations, we cannot try to right all wrongs and seek convictions at all costs. That might be dangerous and it is very unfair and wrong. Justice must be done for the likes of Nora Wall and others.

I am happy to have the opportunity to contribute and I hope the Cloyne report will get to the bottom of this matter. We have seen too many bad experiences. Today we discussed aftercare but children in those homes had no aftercare. We have much evidence, anecdotal and otherwise, to make proper decisions leading to watertight legislation.

The Government's decision to look for 50% from the church was a good idea as the notion of not paying half is outrageous. If September 2011 is imposed as an end date, some people will not achieve redress. Two newspapers in England, two in Ireland and a website publicise this. Not everyone buys newspapers — I would not blame them — and not everyone has access to a website. The confidence of many of these people is low and they may not have the courage to come forward.

The confidentiality clause involved in seeking redress may be intimidating for these people. It would be good if they were encouraged more. Stopping people from speaking about their experiences in the redress scheme adds to the element of secrecy. The fact that they were victims of a secrecy set-up when they were being abused only adds to their fears. It must have been very difficult for them to come forward initially, even without that secrecy element being imposed on them. That must have been daunting for people. Even those who were never in homes have difficulty speaking about negative experiences. There are many examples throughout society of people who were sexually abused being slow to speak about it because they felt guilty. They thought it was a reflection on them that the abuse occurred, and I am sure there must be an element of that for many of these people also. An effort should be made to encourage them to have the confidence to come forward and deal with the issue. Many of them will not come forward without some prompting, and it would be a positive step for the Government to take.

With regard to the two institutions, many of the Deputies have dealt with those already. In terms of the Bethany Home and Magdalene laundries workers, it goes without saying that it will be a serious injustice if those people are not given the opportunity for redress. It is noteworthy that people like the Minister of State, Deputy Kathleen Lynch, and Deputy Joe Costello have campaigned for that through the years. Their party is now in Government and I am sure they would wish to see that happen but the Minister for Education and Skills, Deputy Ruairí Quinn, said "No" to the Bethany Home victims. If there are people in the Labour Party who believe that is the fair approach to take, we are back to the element of money. For the amount of money that would be saved on this, and given that the State has to pay only half of it, we should include both those institutions and give people justice on the matter.

On the deadline, I agree it should not be open-ended. A deadline is necessary but the church must be able to know where it is going in terms of money. Like any business it is very difficult to plan if it does not know what is coming up in ten years' time. The date of September 2013 proposed in the Sinn Féin amendment is fair to all sides.

I call Deputy Seán Kenny who I understand is sharing time with Deputies Paschal Donohoe and Mary Mitchell O'Connor.

I wish to share time with other Labour and Fine Gael Deputies.

I wish to make some comments on the statutory fund aspect of the Residential Institutions Redress (Amendment) Bill. Following on from the Ryan report of 2009, the proposal for a statutory fund was first mooted in the all-party motion passed by Dáil Éireann in May of that year, following the publication of the Ryan report. In light of the Cloyne report published this week and containing yet more horrific revelations about the behaviour of the Catholic Church and its clerics in Ireland, the question of the statutory fund must be raised again.

Apologies and pledges of future co-operation with the civil authorities by the Catholic Church have lost all credibility. The Cloyne report, the latest report by the Murphy commission, is a clear demonstration that this Government, and this House, must assert its authority and ensure the civil law prevails. It is a straightforward matter. The civil authorities oversee the rule of law in Ireland and canon law can have no place in the rule of law.

On 5 July this year, the Minister for Education and Skills, Deputy Ruairí Quinn, announced that the Government is proceeding with legislation to provide for the establishment of the statutory fund to support the victims of residential institutional abuse. That proposal follows a comprehensive consultation process undertaken by the Department of Education and Skills. That process involved meetings with the 18 religious congregations that were party to the 2002 indemnity agreement under the redress scheme, with groups representing survivors of the residential institutions where child abuse occurred, and a number of other interested parties.

To date, just over €21 million has been received and placed in a special interest bearing account in the Central Bank pending the establishment of the statutory fund. However, the remaining congregations are awaiting confirmation that the legislation will provide for the charitable status of their contributions to the fund or sight of the proposed terms and structure of the fund prior to making their final contributions. The offers of contributions envisaged that cash contributions would be made over a period of years.

In light of the Cloyne report, not only should more land should be removed from the control of the institutions that were party to the 2002 indemnity agreement around the country for the purpose of setting up the statutory fund but lands should be transferred from the control of the institutions and put under the control of the State to be used for community and social projects that cost the State money. That should be done where it is clear the land owned by the institutions is not in active use by those institutions. I am not suggesting the State should expropriate property that is in use.

By way of example I point to land owned by the Christian Brothers in my constituency for this latter purpose, namely, the former Christian Brothers novitiate building in Baldoyle. That building is still owned by the Christian Brothers. It is not used, and serves the Christian Brothers no purpose whatsoever. It is a vacant building. Fingal County Council had to contact the owners to ensure the building was properly secured. It remains unused.

I am of the view that the State should now take that building and use it for the benefit of the community in Baldoyle. Indeed, the Baldoyle Community Forum has no facility in Baldoyle village and is reduced to using a building in the nearby industrial estate. This would not be part of the statutory fund but it would relieve the State of the financial burden of the cost of providing buildings for community and other purposes.

About two years ago I had the opportunity to visit a building which housed one of the schools covered by this Bill. Even now, with the passage of decades, to visit one of those buildings as an adult is a searing experience. My clear recollection is of walking down very long corridors with tiny rooms off them. I went into one of the rooms which I was told was preserved in a way that kept it as it had been experienced by the children. The rooms were full of tiny beds side by side where all these children slept and as somebody who was fortunate enough to have been raised in a warm and loving environment, it gave me a glimpse of what those children must have experienced. A Bill such as this and the process we have gone through is scant compensation for what those children endured but I hope it offers a degree of recognition.

I believe it was Deputy McDonald who said earlier that words fail one when talking about this issue. I am reminded of a comment somebody once made: "Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent". While many of the people who endured these experiences find that silence is sometimes the default setting for them, silence is not an option for the State now. Those of us who are speaking about what happened and those in the previous Government tried to bring some degree of recompense for the horrific experiences these children went through. The defining feature of this State's history, or at least of its first half, will be how badly we treated children who did nothing more than be born into a family of a certain background or status. We have a long way to go to make recompense for the way in which these children were treated.

There are four features of this Bill on which I want to speak. Deputy Wallace referred to the confidentiality provision in the original Act. I struggle to understand why this was needed and how it operated. One lesson we have learned very well is that institutions, when threatened, look to protect themselves. Frequently, if not always, they look to protect themselves at the cost of others. One of the most important antidotes to this is transparency and giving people the confidence to talk in the knowledge that, if they do so, they will be listened to. Therefore, I struggle to understand why the State, in putting in place a mechanism to deal with this matter, felt the need to impose a confidentiality clause.

The second point concerns the deadline. Choosing a deadline is always difficult because some always meet it and others do not. For matters as sensitive as this, the choice of deadline is so difficult. It is important, however, that one be fixed. We should acknowledge that the deadline for applications was 2005, which was five and a half years ago. One should question, as other speakers have done, the way in which the deadline is advertised. The briefing material made available to us refers to how the setting up of the fund was advertised through television, radio and a wide variety of publications. What we are now proposing by way of advertising the new deadline looks weak by comparison. It is vital that the kind of effort that went into advertising the setting up of the board be put into advertising its closure.

My final point is on how we should move forward. Sadly, the Cloyne report provides a tragic backdrop to this discussion. The most vital element of our future dealings in this area will be to ensure that the law in this State, irrespective of its flaws, remains supreme. Any ambiguity that arises if an institution believes it has the ability to counter or take the place of any law must be eliminated. Some of the measures the Government is proposing, such as putting in place codes on a statutory basis and the legislation proposed by the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Shatter, will go a long way towards doing so.

I welcome the opportunity to speak on this Bill, which deals with the winding up of the Residential Institutions Redress Board. Section 8 of the Act allowed the board to take late applications for redress and implied it was wholly appropriate that this be the case. There was, no doubt, hesitancy on the part of some victims to come forward to discuss the unspeakable and evil abuse they suffered. In many cases, victims did not have the courage to speak out until they had seen others do so and achieve some success in their search for justice. The extension of the original deadline for applications in exceptional circumstances allowed those people the time and space they needed to tell their stories.

It is now six years, however, since the original extended deadline and the board is being wound down. I understand that, as of May 2011, the board received 15,135 applications, of which 14,592 were finalised, leading to 13,669 awards. It should be noted that many people achieved recognition from the redress board but refused their awards.

It is very welcome that the Minister for Education and Skills, Deputy Ruairí Quinn, has allowed the board to continue to accept late applications for redress in exceptional circumstances until 17 September 2011. It is planned to advertise this in two Irish and two UK daily newspapers six weeks in advance of the deadline. I ask the Minister to expand the advertising programme in recognition of the fact that not everybody affected might see these advertisements. I ask the Minister to examine the feasibility of radio and television advertising in addition to the newspaper advertisements.

I support the call of the Minister for the religious institutions to contribute to the overall bill on a 50:50 basis. Certain religious orders have made offers of property to the State and the Government is considering them. Will the Minister provide an update on progress in this regard?

Yesterday saw the publication of the Cloyne report and the release of some very distressing evidence of the abuse that has taken place in this country. We should remember the publication of reports such as this, in addition to the Ryan and Murphy reports, is a terrible reminder of the victims concerned. They should know their participation in the compilation of such reports represents a great service to the State by revealing the truth about what happened. It is beyond belief that, to this day, individuals in the Catholic Church do not understand one should not abuse children. One should not abuse children physically, emotionally or sexually; it is that simple. It is beyond belief that senior members of the church orchestrated the withholding of information from the authorities and compounded matters by making victims substantiate and prove their stories.

The church authorities should now bow their heads in shame having been dragged through the various commissions of inquiry. The Ferns, Murphy and Ryan and reports, and now the Cloyne report, point to disgraceful litanies of child abuse carried out by the religious. The cover-up means a crime against children was committed on the double.

I support the call yesterday by the Tánaiste for a comment from the Vatican in response to the Cloyne report. I understand Archbishop Leanza said he would immediately bring a copy of the Cloyne report to the attention of the Holy See.

Let me finish on a more hopeful note. There has been a very positive development since the publication of the various reports, namely, legislation to require statutory compliance for the first time with the Children First guidelines, as recommended in the Ryan report. The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Deputy Francis Fitzgerald, received Cabinet approval for this yesterday. The legislation will require all organisations and individuals working with children to share information with the statutory authorities where such information relates to child welfare or protection concerns. The message is simple: child abuse is morally wrong and will not be tolerated.

I wish to share my time with Deputy Pringle.

Stolen innocence and a stolen childhood cannot be compensated for, no matter how much money is involved. The idea of the Residential Institutions Redress Board was to allow people to find ways to cope with the abuse they suffered.

This Bill seeks to wind down the Residential Institutions Redress Board, which has over approximately nine years paid close to €1 billion in financial awards to survivors of institutional abuse in Ireland. The board, over its lifetime, has helped to reveal an astonishing and shameful legacy of abuse across a range of institutions, particularly religious institutions. When it was first proposed as an independent mechanism for compensating abuse victims, it was envisaged that the redress scheme would cost approximately €400 million. I remember a great deal of discussion took place about the contribution that would be paid. In the years that have followed, the sum of €850 million appears to be closer to reality, which indicates the depth of the scandalous treatment of the residents of Irish institutions and the huge number of people affected, who reside in Ireland and elsewhere.

The Bill proposes to amend section 8 of the Residential Institutions Redress Act 2002 to wind up the residential institutions redress board. The board was officially established in 2002 to make awards to the victims of childhood abuse in certain designated institutions. The original closing date for applications to the redress board was December 2005 but the Act allowed for late applications in exceptional circumstances. The Bill proposes 16 September as the closing date. This has come at a very bad time when one considers we are debating this in the same week that the Cloyne report has been published. The proposal to extend the scheme to 2013 is safe and not unreasonable.

We are still waiting for belated official apologies and appropriate compensation from institutions such as the Magdalen laundries and the Bethany Home. I worry there will be a late spike in applications for compensation to the redress board. Legitimate claims will go unheard and unaddressed. For many people, this is about more than seeking financial compensation, it is about being believed. They spent most of their lives not being able to say what happened to them because they did not think they would be believed. This apology is incredibly important and the mechanism to deliver it is the redress board.

In 2002, it was expected that Catholic religious orders would pay one third of the cost of the compensation scheme but in April 2010 the then Government announced the orders which ran the institutions would pay half the overall bill. This was a welcome development and an acknowledgement of the unambiguous responsibility the religious orders bore for the horrific abuse that took place in their institutions. However, it is clear from recent revelations that the true level of contribution offered by the religious orders falls far short of the 50:50 ratio. Based on recent estimates, it seems that €680 million will be paid by the orders and there is a shortfall of €200 million. This is a disgraceful state of affairs and it needs to be addressed.

I understand a significant amount of land and property has been sold in recent years by the religious orders. We should note they are free from paying tax because they are charitable institutions. If this money does not find its way to the State it creates a double problem.

It has also emerged that only two of the 18 congregations have made any additional offer to tackle the shortfall. The remaining congregations have made absolutely no additional offers to the Government. I find this shocking. This is about them taking responsibility and it would be a means of showing they are taking responsibility, as would a change in culture in the reporting of abuse.

The scheme has failed miserably to live up to expectations and the Minister, Deputy Quinn, has expressed disappointment at the outcome. He is seeking to implement a legal mechanism whereby the title of school properties would be transferred to the State at the State's request giving it the power to intervene and stop the sale of such properties. This is a welcome development and I support it. However, the arrangement could throw up some complex legal issues and I call on the Minister to pursue as far as possible a means of finding the €200 million shortfall and not to allow these institutions to wriggle out of their responsibilities.

It is important not to forget the context in which today's debate is taking place. Yesterday, as I mentioned earlier, the report of the commission of investigation into the Catholic diocese of Cloyne was published, illustrating once again the horrific record of abuse in the Catholic Church and its utter failure to deal with complaints and allegations. I welcome the announcement that reporting will be made a legal obligation. It is absolutely necessary that we make sure this does not happen again.

Every time we receive a report like this old wounds are opened up and people who feel they have been coping find they are struggling again. It is very important that we consider at this time the adequacy of the counselling services provided for new complainants and those who have been hurt by the opening up of old wounds. There will be an increase in the numbers who present and it is important that they are properly dealt with.

The history of industrial schools is older than the State. My grandfather, along with some of his siblings, was in an industrial school in Carriglea House, which was a sister institution to Artane. That was under British rule and I believe he was liberated in 1910. Industrial schools were carried over from a previous environment. Children were sent to these schools because a parent died. They were told they would receive an education. We carried on some terribly bad practices and trusted people we had no entitlement to trust. What has come across is that irrespective of who commits abuse there are two common aspects: one is access to children and the second is putting people above question. We see people in all types of situations who have access to children and it is essential to put systems in place, which is why I welcome criminalising people for not complaining.

I am not religious but I know many good people in religious orders who are very hurt by the revelations of this week about the handling of complaints in the Cloyne diocese. We should not treat everyone the same. The institutional failure lets down these people as much as it lets down the people who were abused.

I understand Deputies Richard Boyd Barrett and Joan Collins are also sharing time in this slot.

Each speaker will have three minutes.

The Bill proposes to end the work of the redress board by setting 17 September as the last date for the receipt of claims for redress. I am concerned the date may be too soon and I wonder whether any date should be placed on the receipt of claims in this situation.

The redress board provides a form of compensation for the victims of the terrible abuse that was inflicted on children by religious institutions with the full compliance, and in most cases with the full knowledge, of the State. Many of the victims of the institutions are very traumatised and even the thoughts of making a claim may cause the re-opening of the serious psychological scars they suffered. This means that mentally they may not yet be in a position to make a claim. The process of going before the redress board is traumatic in itself and the Minister must take all of these pressures into account when deciding to close down the work of the board.

There are also concerns that even now there may still be survivors and their families living abroad who have not had the opportunity to make a claim. The Bill provides for the redress board to advertise for at least six weeks in advance of the proposed date of 17 September in at least two newspapers in circulation in England. This will mean the advertisements will appear in the middle of August, which is not the best time of the year to be making announcements of such importance. I appeal to the Minister at least to consider extending the proposed date in order that advertisements will appear when most people have a chance to see them.

I propose to address the refusal of the Minister to include the survivors of the Magdalene laundries and Bethany Home in the terms of the redress board. The exclusion of these survivor groups from the provisions of the Bill has heaped further injustice on them. I appeal to the Minister to allow the Bethany Home survivors to be included in the review chaired by Senator Martin McAleese to give them an opportunity to have their rights vindicated.

I propose to refer to the statutory trust fund proposed by the Minister to provide for the distribution of €100 million to be paid by the religious institutions. Differing views have been expressed by survivors groups on whether this is the proper way to disburse this money. Many groups and individuals believe this money should be given to the victims who have received compensation from the redress board. Not surprisingly the religious institutions and Government are happy with the proposal that the statutory fund use the money to provide services which should be provided separately by the State. Implementing this proposal will be an abdication of the State's responsibility to provide for the health and educational needs of the victims of abuse.

I call on the Minister to leave open the closing date for applications and allow the survivors of the Magdalene laundries and Bethany Home the right to apply to the redress board on the conclusion of Senator McAleese's review. Failing that, I ask that the deadline be extended and a series of advertisements placed in the newspapers and on radio and television here and in Britain to ensure as many survivors as possible have a chance to have their case heard.

While many of the inmates of residential institutions have been through the Residential Institutions Redress Board — representatives of One in Four informed me earlier today that the majority of those who wished to apply to the board have done so — a small number of survivors may decide later that they wish to seek redress from the board. For this reason, I concur with Deputy Pringle that the deadline for applications should be dropped or extended. It would be unfair to close off this option to those who may decide in two or three years that they wish to come forward with their story. The Government should provide for open-ended applications to the Residential Institutions Redress Board. It is also inappropriate that such short notice — only six weeks prior to the cut-off date — will be given before the redress board stops taking further applications. Notice of a cut-off point should be withdrawn in line with a commitment to leave open the facility to make applications for redress for abuse suffered in residential institutions.

Many survivors of abuse who went before the Residential Institutions Redress Board have expressed dissatisfaction at the manner in which they were treated by the board. The adversarial approach of the religious congregations has caused distress. This approach is reflected in the payment of €200 million in legal fees from a total of €1.3 billion paid out by the redress board. The requirement that survivors discuss the details of their lives and families, the lack of consistency in the sums awarded to survivors and the imposition of confidentiality agreements have also caused distress to survivors. The manner in which the Residential Institutions Redress Board has functioned places a question mark over the suitability of this type of body to address the sufferings of the inmates of the Magdalene laundries and Bethany Home. The Minister must examine the issue of establishing a board to facilitate redress for these groups of victims.

The House will next week debate the Cloyne report, which will provide ample opportunities for Deputies to discuss these issues again. The Cloyne report has moved the issue of the separation of church and State further up the agenda. The Dáil must address this issue in the period ahead. The prayer at the commencement of the day's business is an affront to many people and should be replaced by a minute's silence.

The abuse of many thousands of young people in institutions run by the Catholic Church and essentially allowed by State authorities over such a long period is a great cause of shame for this State. We owe a major debt of compensation to people whose lives were utterly ruined. Listening to the tales of the suffering people endured in the industrial schools and Magdalene laundries, it is truly horrifying to think of the abuse suffered by vulnerable young people and their helplessness in the face of the institutions of our society, whether the church or State. Both the church and State professed to protect young people but were involved in horrendous abuse, either through the direct perpetration of abuse or by turning a blind eye to it for a long time.

Many of the victims of abuse are still with us and their lives have been utterly blighted. I meet people every day who endured this horror, including one man who I met randomly on Grafton Street today. Of 14 children in his family, eight had been in industrial schools where their lives were ruined. In that context, for the Oireachtas to impose a guillotine on their right to claim redress from the State and church authorities is a scandal. There should be no question of imposing such a guillotine for as long as there are people who have not had full redress for the crimes that were committed against them. We owe it to them to give them every encouragement and opportunity to seek redress at a time of their choosing and not on the basis of some arbitrary date which we impose to bring to an end our responsibility for this issue. The Government must rethink its position in this matter.

It is an absolute scandal that the redress scheme does not extend to the victims of the Magdalene laundries and Bethany Home. This amending legislation should provide for their inclusion in the scheme. I appeal to the Government to reconsider its position in this regard.

In the context of the publication of the Cloyne report and the terrible history of powerful institutions in this State being responsible for the most terrible abuse, the Government must exert extreme pressure on the church to open up and be held fully accountable to the victims of abuse in church institutions. The State bears some responsibility for allowing the church to act as it did. The man I met on Grafton Street earlier told me he wants the church authorities, the papal nuncio and representatives of the State to be brought before a public forum where it would be open to any victim of abuse in church institutions to come forward and interrogate the representatives of the institutions that were responsible for the abuse and have their stories and histories fully heard. The victims need this type of public forum to put forward their proposals for securing full redress and compensation for the terrible suffering they endured. If the Government is serious about caring for the victims of this terrible abuse, it must take action along the lines I have suggested.

I thank Deputies for their contributions over the past two hours. Thankfully, the debate was conducted in the correct spirit and was devoid of some of the naked political grandstanding that has set the tone for much of the debate in the House in recent weeks. I will address some of the points raised by Members on both sides of the House. Deputies Seán Crowe and Brendan Smith sought assurance that the Government is satisfied that the work of the board is nearing completion and that potential applicants have had an opportunity to apply for any redress to which they feel they are entitled. I assure both Deputies, and all Deputies who have raised this issue, that this is very much the case. The board has approximately 500 applications on hand to be finalised and a further 560 late applications to be considered. To date, the board has processed applications from more than 14,600 cases.

The board was established in 2002 and a very extensive advertising campaign, costing almost €1 million, was undertaken by the board at the time. In 2005, another extensive advertising campaign was undertaken to notify all concerned of the closing date, as it was at the time. The publication of the Ryan report in May 2009 afforded another opportunity to raise awareness of the scheme. The recent publication of the Cloyne report will further serve to jog the memories of some of those who were the subject of horrific abuse in the past.

Eight years after the establishment of the board, the Government is satisfied that it is time to start winding down the redress board. I am sure many of those who suffered this horrific abuse would seek to have all possible closure on the terrible memories they carry with them on a daily basis. The very act of winding down the redress board will, perhaps, help them to put the past behind them, move on, pick up the pieces of their lives and achieve whatever they can in the very difficult circumstances in which they live.

Deputy Smith raised the possibility of allowing exceptional cases to be admitted after the closing date. It is important to recognise that the original closing date was December 2005. At that point, we were moving into the phase where only exceptional cases would be considered. Since then, we have been dealing with what could be described as exceptional cases. While some Deputies are concerned that potential applicants are not aware of the right to compensation the Government believes that every reasonable effort has been made to raise awareness and that it is time to commence winding down the redress board.

The measures I outlined earlier as to raising public awareness are the minimum one would hope to set in train. I am confident that the redress board, through the strong linkages it has built up with support groups for sufferers in Ireland and with diaspora support groups globally, will be able to go beyond the formal advertising process I laid out earlier and raise significant awareness about the impending closing date. Deputy Smith raised the necessity to ensure that all channels are used to make potential applicants aware of the closing date. I assure him that all available channels will be used. The Deputy suggested some very helpful measures in which we might engage. There is a large international Irish community network which we can access. A number of legal firms have been closely involved in the redress process. They are also being advised of the closing date and will be encouraged to spread the news as widely as possible.

Deputy Smith raised the question of the records of the board. Subsection 28(7) of the 2002 Act provides that the board shall, prior to the making of an order to dissolve the board, determine the disposal of the documents concerning applications made to it. Similarly, the decisions on the commission's records are a matter for the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse. The legislation envisages that the commission will be making as complete a record as is practicable of the proceedings of the commission. This House has noted the desirability that, in so far as possible, all documentation received by the commission be preserved for posterity and not destroyed. Both the redress board and the commission are maintaining all their documentation. My colleague, the Minister for Education and Skills, Deputy Ruairí Quinn, is anxious to retain the records of the bodies to the greatest degree possible and is liaising with the bodies in this regard.

Several Deputies raised the matter of the Bethany Home, while Deputy Clare Daly raised the wider general issue of mother and baby homes. When the redress scheme was introduced it was intended to address a particular circumstance, namely abuse in residential care. It was not intended to be a panacea for every single injustice visited on our children in the past. The scheme covers industrial schools, reformatory schools, orphanages, children's homes and special schools in which children were placed and resident and in respect of which a public body had a regulatory or inspection function. As noted by the Minister at the time, the scheme was to deal with the abuse of children while the State was acting to a significant degree in loco parentis, where children had been removed by the State from their parents and placed out of their protection. The scheme does not include mother and baby homes, hostels and other settings.

As Deputies will be aware, there was a range of demands for the scheme to be extended to include specific institutions and categories of institutions, following the publication of the Ryan report. The previous Government considered the matter and decided against any extension. This decision has meant the exclusion of a range of institutions which could have been considered for inclusion.

The Minister for Education and Skills recently met the Bethany survivors group and reviewed the matter. He confirmed that the religious ethos of an institution was not a criterion for inclusion in the scheme and while the majority of institutions were managed by religious congregations others were managed by State bodies, voluntary bodies and management committees or pursuant to trusts. The perception that the redress scheme addressed only Catholic institutions is simply not true. The Minister has concluded that there is no basis to review the decision on the Bethany Home. The Minister has been proactive in meeting the Bethany survivors group. He met them on 24 May last. The group presented extensive research undertaken on its behalf. The group perceives that the exclusion of the Bethany Home from the redress scheme was on religious grounds. The Minister has confirmed that the religious ethos of an institution was not a criterion for inclusion within the scheme. The research undertaken revealed that the Bethany Home was certified by the Minister for Justice in 1945 as a place of detention under the Children's Act 1908. In this regard, the Department of Justice and Equality has advised that while it has not received any allegations of abuse from any female committed to the home it would be happy to deal with any such case on an individual basis.

Deputies also raised the question of those women and girls who were housed, for want of a better word, in Magdalene laundries. As Deputies are aware, the Government believes it is essential to fully establish the true facts and circumstances relating to the laundries. The interdepartmental committee chaired by Senator Martin McAleese is tasked with clarifying the State's interaction with the laundries. This is a necessary first step and I welcome the congregations' statement that they are willing to bring clarity, understanding, healing and justice in the interests of the women involved.

Deputy Donohoe raised the confidentiality aspect of the original Residential Institutions Redress Act. This confidentiality clause does not prevent former residents from recounting details of their experiences while resident in scheduled institutions. It prevents them from disclosing the fact that they received an award from the board in respect of their experiences while so resident. This is in recognition of the fact that the board operated an ex gratia scheme with no finding of fault. The threshold of proof was lower and the range of matters requiring proof was narrower. Applicants had to prove their identity, their residence in an institution during childhood, that they were injured while so resident and that the injury was consistent with the alleged abuse.

One of the goals of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse was to provide those abused with an opportunity to recount their stories, which was a very important part of the healing process.

I commend all those whose testimony is reflected in the commissioner's report.

I referred earlier to an important element of the closure of this particularly horrendous episode in our nation's history. The Ryan report recommended the erection of a memorial to victims of institutional abuse inscribed with the words of an apology given by the then Taoiseach in May 1999 as a permanent and fitting public acknowledgement of their experiences. The committee appointed to oversee the memorial in October 2009 has consulted widely and the Minister has agreed to its proposal to advance the erection of the memorial to the competition stage. The committee will seek expressions of interest from those interested in designing and erecting such a memorial.

Question put and agreed to.