Right of Place charity launches appeal with a difference

A SUPPORT group for victims of clerical abuse that has received more than €3million from the taxpayer has admitted it has no idea where all the cash has gone.

The charity is now in the extraordinary position of asking anyone who has ever made a donation or received its help to get in touch so it can work out exactly how much money has gone missing.

The bizarre move comes after the HSE stepped in to appoint a temporary administrator to run Right of Place/Second Chance, which is carrying out a full investigation of its finances.

Tom Wall, a director of the Cork-based charity, said last night: ‘As bad as it sounds, we simply do not know exactly how much money the charity has received. And, more worryingly, we don’t know what it has done with the money.

‘I would urge anybody to get in touch with us and let us know how much money they gave us and when.’

He added: ‘There is a feeling at the charity that in the past it has not always acted in the best interests of its members and that is very regrettable.’

Tom Cronin, a survivor of institutional abuse at Presentation Brothers’ Greenmount Industrial School in Cork who helped set up the group in 1999, welcomed the internal audit, which he has been demanding since 2006.

He said last night: ‘Just who actually benefited from this charity is still something of a mystery. That is an outrageous situation and it has gone on for far too long.

‘I am delighted that the board are taking such a bold and innovative step as part of their determination to restructure the charity. I think it’s now just a matter of time before the gardaí are called in.’

Mr Cronin, who resigned from the board of directors in 2001, accused the Government of handing over vast amounts of Exchequer money for more than 10 years without bothering to find out where it was going.

‘The various departments who have given money to this charity have, in my opinion, being a bit relaxed when it comes to checks and balances,’ he said.

The Irish Daily Mail has learned that between 2001 and 2008 the Department of Education gave a total of €980,080 to Right of Place, which claims to represent 1,500 people.

A further €677,000 was received from the Department of Health between 2002 and 2005. Between 2006 and 2010, the HSE – which took over funding for the charity from the Department of Health – gave €1,498,723.

On top of the €3.1million in direct government funding, the charity also received €50,000 Lotto funding in 2003.

Controversially, it also accepted money from some of the very religious orders that ran institutions accused of abusing the people it claims to help.

The exact amount the various organisations gave is not publicly known but it is estimated at €300,000.

The Sisters of Mercy in Cork were involved in sourcing at least €20,000 for the charity but by last year they were demanding to know how the money was actually being spent.

In 2009, Sister Maria McGuinness from St Columba’s Convent in Cork wrote to the charity saying: ‘I would be grateful to receive the detailed breakdown of how the grant of €20,000 was spent.’

Other orders include Brothers of Charity, which gave €5,000 in 2000, the Sisters of Charity, which gave €10,000 in 2006, and the Congregation of the Brothers of Charity. The Galway-based charity donated €6,350 in 2002.

The Rosminians Institute of Charity in Drumcondra, Dublin, donated €5,000 the previous year.

The HSE last night denied ignoring how Right of Place administered taxpayers’ money.

A spokesman said: ‘During the period December 2009 to date, the HSE has worked with the organisation to bring about structure and good governance.

‘In May 2010 all parties signed an agreement which created a pathway to move forward. It provided a mechanism to democratically elect a new board of directors representative of the local committees of the organisation.’

 She said the HSE would not be able to give details about its funding plans for Right of Place next year until the Budget has been announced.

Mr Wall said: ‘We are currently going through a major restructuring process. A major part of that is a detailed look at the charity’s finances.’

Clerical abuse Ryan Report congregations worth ‘€20 billion’

THE 18 congregations in the care home redress row could be worth as much as €20bn.

Properties they own are among the most desirable in Ireland and around the world, with one congregation even counting Jack Nicholson as a neighbour.

Others have accounts with the queen of England’s bankers, Coutts.

The astonishing figure is based on assets from Ireland and around the world. It includes care homes, hospitals, churches, schools, retirement homes, convents, publishing houses, youth hostels, internet firms, tour companies, farms and car parks.

Philip Beresford, the editor of the Sunday Times Rich List, said: ‘Based on the figures for Irish and UK income and property, a conservative estimate would be €15bn.

But the total value of all of the 18 congregations could be as much as €20bn.’

The congregations’ €45m redress payments to abuse victims since 2002 pale in comparison to what they have earned from the Government.

According to past accounts of the Health Service Executive, the Department of Education and the now defunct regional health boards, this amounts to more than €2.5bn per year.

The €45m is a fraction of the e2.6bn paid to abuse victims in the US and Canada.

The Brothers of Charity, which was founded in Belgium and is the largest provider of services for people with intellectual disabilities in the State, was paid €649.5m between 2005 and 2008.

Unlike thousands of Irish businesses struggling to survive the recession, most of the order’s income is guaranteed.

Indeed, since the infamous compensation deal was struck by former education minister Michael Woods, the congregations have been paid more than €14bn.

The UK branches of some of the congregations in Ireland have available funds of more than €522.7m, according to accounts.

In Ireland, their land banks include more than 600 properties, while in the UK they have more than 250 properties.

There are least 400 properties further field. Some of these properties are lavish.

In London, for example, the Sisters of Nazareth’s Hammersmith offices, based in a sumptuous period property, were last night valued at about €42m.

As well as choice slices of central Dublin, the orders have always had a canny eye for investing early in some of the best neighbourhoods.

The Sisters of Nazareth have more than 50 retirement villas on land bought more than 60 years ago in a prized part of Pretoria in South Africa.

And as well as owning Monaghan Cathedral and properties in Brazil, France and England, the Sisters of St Louis have property a few doors down from Jack Nicholson’s Mulholland Drive mansion in Hollywood.

Although the religious groups have insisted that they are legally restrained from selling, their practices over the past 10 years have shown otherwise.

Property experts believe orders sold off nearly €1bn in property between 1999 – the year the indemnity was signed – and 2004.

The indemnity deal capped the liability of religious groups at €127m even though the total bill is likely to cost the State around €1.3bn overall.

In 2004, the biggest single land deal so far took place – the Oblates Order sold Belcamp lands in Coolock in Dublin for €105m. Orders are experts at using the legal process.

Last year, trustees for the Presentation Brothers prevented Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council from zoning land on fouracres of the order’s land in Glasthule, for sports and recreational use.

This echoed a 2004 battle over proposed amendments to Dublin planning regulations.

Changes in draft city plans would have prevented development on land zoned for longterm institutional use, unless it was for social housing.

The Conference of the Religious in Ireland (CORI) claimed the move was unconstitutional.

It would have affected its ability to make money from future sales of church land. But now abuse victims are calling on the groups to free up their assets.

Last night, care home survivor and Dublin inner city election candidate Mannix Flynn said: ‘The Catholic Church must make available immediately a social fund of at least €1bn.’

SISTERS OF NAZARETH: Empire from Malahide to leafy slopes of Cape Town.

THE Poor Sisters of Nazareth are far more financially astute than their name implies. The order which ran Nazareth House, a residential home for children in Sligo town for decades, mainly focuses its efforts on the very lucrative business of residential and nursing home care in its 40 homes worldwide. With retirement villages dotted across the world – though located mainly in Britain and South Africa – the sisters’ Victoire Larmenier Foundation control properties estimated to be worth more than e50m. Headed up by superior general Sister Mary Monaghan their portfolio ranges from a e40m palatial premises in London, a variety of ranch-style buildings in California, land and properties in New Zealand and Australia and plush retirement villages in Pretoria’s equivalent of Dublin 4 and upmarket Cape Town, above, in South Africa. Although the information on the foundation’s property presence in Ireland is limited, the Sisters of Nazareth list their large convent in Malahide as the Irish address for the Victoire Larmenier Foundation. While accounts lodged with the Companies Registration Office show the foundation has a balance of nil, the congregation has received more than e17m in HSE funds in the past three years alone. In 2003 in Britain, the sisters controlled funds worth €165m while their activities there earn them e28m a year. The order also earns e2.1m a year from investments in Britain, and accounts show funds worth e85m. More than 1,800 children passed through the sisters’ Nazareth House in Sligo between 1910 and its closure in 1993. It later became a nursing home.

CHRISTIAN BROTHERS: More than 130 properties worth a total of €700m.

ROUNDLY criticised in the wake of the Ryan Report, the Christian Brothers have a property portfolio of more than 130 properties. With a substantial number of them in prime city locations, and located on sizable grounds – the portfolio is estimated to be worth more than e1.5bn, though many of the order’s schools are held in trust. Although the exact extent of their wealth is shrouded in secrecy, the brothers, whose spokesman Br Edmund Garvey has promised total transparency, are estimated to be worth more than e1bn. Their exact wealth is shrouded in secrecy but they are estimated to be worth more than e1bn, with property alone accounting for more than e700m of this. Companies which hold Christian Brothers interests include Richmond Newstreet Ltd, six of whose directors are based near the Vatican.

SISTERS OF MERCY: Almost €1bn from taxpayer in just four years.

WITH annual income from the U.S.-based Sisters of Mercy Health System alone standing at more than e2bn, the Sisters of Mercy top the congregational earnings poll by a long way. In Ireland, where the congregation was founded by Catherine McAuley in 1831, it is one of the largest property-owners in the country. The order’s portfolio of more than 180 properties include Dublin’s Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, the Children’s University Hospital, Temple Street as well as their primelocation headquarters at McAuley House in Dublin 4. In the past four years, Sisters of Mercy healthrelated activities have received just under e1bn funding from the HSE alone. The sisters also receive Department of Education funding for each of the 60-plus schools they run. The Congregation set a record for a site in Dublin in 2001 when they sold 14.5 acres on Merrion Road for €45.7m. This was a year after they made €10.1m from their 3.5 acres at Mount St Anne’s in Milltown. The order has more than 10,000 members worldwide but as of 2003, the sisters have been organised into a number of independent congregations.