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 Header Item Ceisteanna - Questions
 Header Item Government-Church Dialogue

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 944 No. 2

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Ceisteanna - Questions

Government-Church Dialogue

 1. Deputy Ruth Coppinger Information on Ruth Coppinger Zoom on Ruth Coppinger asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny if he will report on his meetings with religious leaders. [13920/17]

 2. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny if he will report on any recent meetings he has held with church leaders and faith communities. [13987/17]

 3. Deputy Joan Burton Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny if he will report on his meetings with church leaders and faith communities. [15507/17]

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny I propose to take Questions Nos. 1, 2 and 3 together.

  Like public representatives generally, I meet church leaders informally from time to time in the course of attending official or public events. Last year in particular, with the 1916 commemorations, I attended many events that were also attended by representatives from various religious groups.

  As Taoiseach in the previous Government, I met with representatives from the Catholic Church, Church of Ireland, the Jewish community, the Islamic community, Atheist Ireland and the Humanist Association of Ireland as part of the structured dialogue process. I also met an ecumenical delegation of European churches in the context of Ireland's Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2013.

  I have reported to the House on all the meetings I have held under the structured dialogue process in replies to various parliamentary questions since 2013, most recently on 2 February and 15 June of last year.

  I have not held any meetings under the structured dialogue process since the formation of the current Government.

Deputy Ruth Coppinger: Information on Ruth Coppinger Zoom on Ruth Coppinger I want to raise with the Taoiseach the issue of the Catholic orders and the redress scheme. The whole question of how these institutions were run and so on is now a major issue. According to the Comptroller and Auditor General, the Catholic religious congregations have only paid 13% of the costs of a redress scheme set up to help survivors. The report states that by the end of 2015, the total cost of the commission which inquired into child abuse and the redress scheme was an estimated €1.5 billion. However, that progress has actually gone into reverse. Some 18 religious orders have offered the equivalent of about 23% of the overall cost. I want to ask in particular about one religious order, the Christian Brothers. They said they were on course to honour all the voluntary pledges they made. Of the €34 million that they pledged, €24 million has been paid, with the final €10 million to be paid in 2017 on a phased basis, linked to property sales. The problem is that they have tried to transfer lands that they own to the Edmund Rice Schools Trust, which are their own schools. They are trying to use this transfer as part payment of their obligations under the redress scheme. Just so the Taoiseach knows, patronage of the most recent secondary school in Castleknock, in Dublin West, was awarded to this trust. People are aghast that religious congregations are being awarded hospitals and schools like it is business as usual and as if nothing has happened, yet those congregations have not even fulfilled their obligations. The Sisters of Mercy are similar. Apparently, I only have a minute and a half so I do not have time to go into it.

I had hoped to raise with the Taoiseach the fact that, in the 1920s and 1930s, a succession of laws were passed which gave the church control over health, education, and employment as it pertained to women. Basically, the Taoiseach's ancestors-----

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Thank you, Deputy.

Deputy Ruth Coppinger: Information on Ruth Coppinger Zoom on Ruth Coppinger -----in Cumann na nGaedheal were in competition with Fianna Fáil: "I will raise you a Censorship of Publications Act" and "I will bid you a Juries Act to top it off." It was a competition between the lads to see who was the most holy and who would give the church the most power.

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh The Taoiseach mentioned that he has not met the main leaders of the churches in an organised fashion in the last year.


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