Archive for May, 2009

The head of Ofsted was paid more than Pfund230,000 in salary and bonuses last year despite admitting failings over the Baby Peter case.

Christine Gilbert earned performance-related pay of Pfund38,000 on top of her salary of Pfund196,000.

Her watchdog was heavily criticised for giving Haringey Council a ‘good’ rating just weeks after Baby Peter died following months of abuse at his home in North London.

Ofsted’s verdict dramatically changed when inspectors were sent in again a year later, at the height of public anxiety over Baby Peter’s death.

Mrs Gilbert admitted the council had been able to ‘hide behind’ data to achieve a favourable rating. The watchdog is now implementing major reforms of the system for inspecting social services.

Mrs Gilbert is among a series of education chiefs whose pay has been disclosed. Many bureaucrats are paid more than Gordon Brown, who collects Pfund190,000.

The TaxPayers’ Alliance has condemned the salaries, claiming public money is being used to reward failure.

Freedom of Information disclosures show the head of the quango responsible for the school rebuilding programme earns Pfund 213,000. Tim Byles was appointed chief executive of Partnerships for Schools in November 2006, and is responsible for overseeing the Building Schools for the Future programme.

A report by auditors earlier this year found the scheme was running two years behind schedule and Pfund10billion over-budget.

Costs were found to have spiralled to Pfund55billion following ‘avoidable delays’ and excessive spending on consultants. Many of the problems pre-date Mr Byles’s arrival, his aides said.

Elsewhere, exam officials who admitted failures during the SATs marking fiasco were paid handsomely, and also received notice pay after quitting over the problems. Dr Ken Boston earned Pfund175,000 to Pfund180,000 basic annual salary plus Pfund154,000 worth of perks, including rent on a home in Chelsea, as head of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority.


The leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland has clashed with the religious orders involved in child abuse over the amount they are willing to contribute towards compensating victims. Eighteen Catholic congregations defied calls from Cardinal Sean Brady to be more generous in their dealings with those who suffered abuse.

Pressure has been building on the Catholic hierarchy to do something about the grossly disproportionate burden that the Irish taxpayer has to shoulder in a controversial compensation or redress scheme for thousands of victims. But the religious orders said last night that they would not renegotiate the deal after Cardinal Brady, who is also bishop of Irelands largest diocese, asked them to revisit the terms of the compensation.

Last week the conclusions of the nine-year Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, headed by Mr Justice Sean Ryan, were published, and Dermot Ahern, the Irish Justice Minister, said yesterday that a senior garda officer was examining the report to see whether criminal charges could be laid. The report identifies about 800 abusers, among them nuns, priests and monks, principally members of the Christian Brothers. Only a handful have been prosecuted and convicted.

Pope Benedict XVI will also be briefed on the report.

Under the 2002 compensation deal 18 religious congregations agreed to pay Pfund127 million most of it in the form of buildings and land in return for indemnity against further claims against them. The Government agreed to meet the remaining costs, which have since spiralled to about Euro1.3 billion. (Pfund1.1 billion).

Public anger over the deal has increased. Thousands of people have queued to sign a solidarity book at Mansion House, Dublin, with some signatories angrily declaring that the guilty priests, nuns and monks who raped and tortured children in their care for decades should be hunted down like Nazis.

Last week was a grim one in the annals of child protection. On the same day that Baby P’s abusers were sentenced following one of the grossest professional failures in recent memory, the controversial paediatrician David Southall, who pioneered covert video surveillance to detect child abuse, learnt that his career was over. His appeal to the High Court against a decision by the General Medical Council to strike him off the register was dismissed.
The criticism of the professionals in the Baby P case was that they did not act swiftly or decisively enough to protect the 17-month-old when signs emerged of his ill treatment. The criticism of Southall was that he acted too swiftly and decisively to protect a child he believed to be at risk acting in an “offensive” and “unjustified” manner.

The end in both cases is tragedy a baby has lost his life and a crusading paediatrician has lost his livelihood. The hope is that these events will improve the protection of children. But will they?

Social services departments cannot recruit to their benighted profession, because of the Baby P effect, and there is an alarming swing against parental rights, which means more children judged “at risk” will be removed from their homes into the frequently damaging realm of state care.

Meanwhile paediatricians with one of the toughest jobs in medicine distinguishing accidental from non-accidental injury are left badly undermined by the spectacle of a doctor of international renown suffering professional extinction.

The harrowing and gut wrenching stories of physical, emotional and sexual abuse of children detailed in the Report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse should not have surprised us.

After all, many children growing up in the 1960s and 1970s were told that, if they did not behave, they would be sent to Letterfrack or Artane.

Irish society knew – or at the very least, was aware – of the hell on Earth being inflicted on defenceless children in religious institutions. Yet, what was their crime? In the main, it was poverty. Tragic circumstances of birth resulted in many children from lower socio-economic backgrounds being received into care and being systematically abused and exploited to expand the coffers of the religious institutions.

The legacy of our shameful indifference is illustrated in this important report that indicates there were 800 known abusers in more than 200 institutions over a period of 35 years. We must learn from it.

The report stated that the deferential and submissive attitude of the Department of Education towards the [religious] congregations compromised its ability to carry out its statutory duty of inspection and monitoring of the schools. Clearly, the state did not shout stop, but neither did anyone else. Sexual, physical and emotional abuse of children was systematic – in particular, sexual abuse of boys was endemic in religious-run institutions.

The scale of abuse of thousands of children in institutions run by religious congregations implicates all of Irish society. When the Kennedy Report was published in 1970, an awareness and concern was created for the first time as to what was hidden behind the euphemistic words residential child care. A chilling feature of the accounts of children who were in care in Ireland prior to the report emerged. So did the unquestioned – and apparently unquestionable – moral authority of the care providers, and the reckless disregard for child welfare.

The last few decades have seen an upsurge in the reporting of cases involving victims of abuse in institutional settings. Many such incidents came to light during the 1990s, revealed by the Madonna House inquiry and RTEs documentary series States of Fear. The systematic physical and sexual abuse of children in care institutions became an area of national concern.

The 18 congregations that signed the controversial deal with the Government in 2002 to compensate victims of abuse in institutions said this evening they would not renegotiate the terms of the agreement.

The move by the congregations comes despite increasing public pressure and a call this morning by the Catholic primate Cardinal Sean Brady that the deal should be revisited.

The 2002 agreement between the congregations and the State indemnified the religious orders from all redress claims made by victims in exchange for payments and property transfers totalling Euro127 million. The total bill for the redress scheme is likely to be about Euro1.3 billion.

Following a meeting in Dublin this morning the congregations said this evening they accepted the gravity of the abuse detailed in the Ryan report last week. However, the statement added: Rather than re-opening the terms of the agreement reached with Government in 2002, we reiterate our commitment to working with those who suffered enormously while in our care. We must find the best and most appropriate ways of directly assisting them.

The statement said the group would meeting in the coming days to explore the detail of our responses.

The Conference of the Religious in Ireland (Cori), which represents 138 religious congregations, said in a statement this evening that it supports the 18 congregations in their efforts to find the best and most appropriate ways forward.

All of us accept with humility that massive mistakes were made and grave injustices were inflicted on very vulnerable children. No excuse can be offered for what has happened, the Cori statement said.

Meanwhile, the Standing Committee of the Irish Bishops’ Conference welcomed the publication of report from the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, desccribing it as a significant step in establishing the truth and enabling the voices of survivors of abuse to be heard.

A 14-year-old boy from Northern Ireland with a history of sexual assaults on a number of young people went on to rape his 12-year-old sister despite social services knowing of his background, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal today.

This harrowing case is just one of the Case Management Reviews (CMRs) being highlighted in the second day of coverage of some of the most serious child abuse and neglect cases to take place in the province.

Executive summaries of the reviews were provided by the Health and Social Care Boards four Area Child Protection Committees (ACPC) in response to a Freedom of Information request from the Telegraph. They all contain pseudonyms to ensure the children involved are not identified.

CMRs are carried out when a child dies or is seriously injured and abuse or neglect is known or suspected to be a factor. All of the reviews make recommendations about how cases could have been handled better by social services.

Other cases reported on today include:

a three-year-old girl on the Child Protection Register who ended up in a coma after taking her mothers medication

a two-month-old baby who died after falling asleep in her mothers arms. Around 45 health and social care professionals were involved with the mother over two years.

the suicide of a 16-year-old girl.

The Department of Health has confirmed that the number of children referred to social services has risen by 24% in the past five years and also that 951 childrens cases were unallocated as of March 31.

THE ARCHBISHOP of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin, has called on Catholic religious congregations to make a new gesture of recognition of the abuse carried out in institutions they ran.

Addressing the religious congregations who ran institutions criticised in the Child Abuse Commission report, he described as stunning the fact that implementation of a redress agreement made with the State seven years ago has yet to be fully completed.

The fact that the mechanisms of fulfilling your side of that agreement have not yet been brought to completion is stunning, he writes in todays Irish Times . There may have been legal difficulties, but they are really a poor excuse after so many years.

Whatever happens with regards to renegotiating that agreement, you cannot just leave things as they are.

There are many ways in which substantial financial investment in supporting survivors and their families can be brought about, perhaps in creative ways which would once again redeem your own charism as educators of the poor.

In many ways it is your last chance to render honour to charismatic founders and to so many good members of your congregations who feel tarnished, Dr Martin writes.

The 2002 agreement between the congregations and the State indemnified the religious orders from all redress claims made by victims in exchange for payments and property transfers totalling Euro127 million. The total bill for the redress scheme is likely to be about Euro1.3 billion.

Yesterday, Cardinal Sean Bradys general assistant, Fr Timothy Bartlett, called on the relevant religious congregations to re-enter negotiations with the State on the 2002 deal.