An Irish woman's social, political and domestic commentary
Thursday, August 19, 2004  

Religion and schools

Tom's comment appears attractive but I think ignores the problem that Ireland's educational (and indeed medical) history is not easily disentangled from religion. For a variety of reasons the education of the masses in Ireland was left to the religious. While the Jesuits had their fancy Belvederes and Gonzagas, the hoi polloi were left to the Christian Brothers and the Sisters of Mercy (or Presentation, Loretto etc). For all their faults, it did leave the people educated and in a position to fill the ranks of the civil and public service or ship out to the US and UK in search of employment. So even if O'Malley wanted to dump the religious (which he probably had no interest in doing) he couldn't have considered it, because how would the state replace the school buildings and personnel which the religious orders had provided?

If there was no prospect of separating church and state in the schools then it seemed logical that the only fair system was to support all religions in the schools and given the fact that the 'minority' religion would clearly not be in a position to adequately fund its own schools, then providing the capitation grants as well as the teachers' salaries was a fair system to protect the Prods. (And given the havoc Ne Temere was playing with the left-footers, this was a necessity). (Altho' their access to contraception and suspiciously small families didn't help them either and that was their own making - or non-making). (WW1 didn't help either but neither the Church nor the State can hardly be blamed for that). But I digress.

The point is that now, a lot of the fee-paying COI schools have more Catholic students than Protestants. So why should they get the extra money? The Prods can get their money, but for Prods, not for the aspirant West Brit Catholics.

One further comment and this relates to the criticism of the State's deal with the religious orders regarding compensation for abuse in the reformatory schools. The Orders are contributing something like €127m cash and some property to a fund which will compensate those who were abused in various homes and schools as children. This will leave the state with a massive shortfall as the claims could well run into several multiples of that figure. The State has been severely criticised for letting the Orders off the hook. However, it shouldn't be forgotten that these children (orphans, mild delinquents, poor children etc) were the State's responsibility. They were happy to shunt their 'care' on to the religious thus saving the State money and resources. There are many documented cases of their being informed, not perhaps of sexual abuse, but certainly of neglect, malnutrition and physical abuse taking place in some of these institutions. They chose not to intervene. This negligence means that they are liable to pay the compensation. Of course, the humble tax payer will end up paying (since we are the State), however I've no problem with that either since it was as a society that we (or previous generations) stood by and allowed it to happen.

posted by Sarah | 10:11 1 comments
"Of course, the humble tax payer will end up paying (since we are the State), however I've no problem with that either since it was as a society that we (or previous generations) stood by and allowed it to happen."

Well, as you say, why am I paying? It wasn't my society that allowed it to go on, but our parents. Restrict repayment to the the over 40's. And equally aren't others who were the victims of abuse or even just residents of the homes but have not taken an action also paying those that sued? That seems harsh.
But my main bugbear is why is money being paid out at all - how is money, grubby money, some compensation for the terrible acts that went on? How is it the same equivalecy - one act of sodomy is a grand, is that the calculation? Why does it go to individuals claiming now unprovable individual acts of abuse? If there must be money why can't it go to current children's homes or to those abroad where there may still be poor conditions. How many would come forward now if there weren't a chance of personal enrichment? I am not impying deceit on anyone's part, merely wondering whether without this sickening compensation culture, we would see as many acts of altruism as the money went to enrich the lives of others.
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