Abuse scandal | 

Spiritan schools received €31m in state funding over past two decades

The religious order has been at the centre of a sexual abuse scandal this year after hundreds of former students came forward

Amy MolloyIndependent.ie

Schools run by the Spiritan congregation have received €31m in state funding in the past two decades, new figures show.

The Spiritans are connected to 10 schools in Dublin and Tipperary, but only six qualify for funding from the Department of Education.

Figures released under a Freedom of Information request show Spiritan schools have received between €2m and €15m since 2004.

The Spiritan congregation, formerly known as the Holy Ghost Order, has been at the centre of a sexual abuse scandal this year after hundreds of former students came forward with allegations.

More than 400 past pupils have alleged they were abused while attending schools run by the Spiritans.

Around 170 of these contacted the Spiritans after RTÉ Radio 1 aired its documentary, Blackrock Boys, early last month.

It told the stories of brothers Mark and David Ryan, who were sexually abused on the grounds of Blackrock College in Dublin in the late 1970s and early 1980s. They were the first students to speak publicly about the abuse.

There are now confirmed allegations against 78 Spiritan members who served in schools and parishes dating back to the 1940s. Three more allegations are being verified.

It was also revealed that €5.4m has been paid towards 80 settlement claims and support services in the last 17 years.

The Spiritans said the settlements were funded through the sale of historical assets and not with donations, school fees or government grants.

The congregation’s fee- charging and non-fee-charging schools have received funds from the Department of Education.

In the last two years it has sold lands and property in Dublin and Meath, with some of the funds going towards legal cases and settlements

Holy Family Community School in Rathcoole, Co Dublin, received the largest amount, with €15m paid for various grants, materials and equipment. The department paid €9.6m to Templeogue College in Dublin, €3.8m to Rockwell College in Tipperary and just over €2m to Blackrock College in Dublin. St Michael’s College has received €537,000 and St Mary’s College €493,000.

Fee-charging primaries, in- cluding Willow Park junior and senior schools, St Mary’s and St Michael’s, do not qualify for government funding.

Blackrock College, which has 1,000 students, received the largest state funding out of all the schools for Covid cleaning supports and PPE, getting just over €211,822 across three years.

Rockwell College, which has around 500 students, received €105,000.

St Mary’s College, which has around 700 students, was paid €97,000, St Michael’s was paid €151,000, Templeogue got €141,000 and Holy Family received €198,000.

Each of the schools has also received grants for supervision and substitution and the introduction of ICT equipment. Holy Family received the largest number of payments and got €108,000 in a once-off cost-of-living grant this year.

The congregation confirmed to the Charities Regulator that it has €107.4m in “restricted” assets reserved for education and a €57m in congressional assets.

In the last two years it has sold lands and property in Dublin and Meath, with some of the funds going towards legal cases and settlements.

This included a site in Blackrock, Dublin, “community houses that were no longer required” in Kimmage, Dublin, and some land near Navan, Co Meath.

The Government has since requested the order retain all its assets and maintain all records relating to sex abuse allegations in its schools.

Gardaí have received more than 100 contacts since the RTÉ documentary was broadcast. They include victims, but also people who witnessed abuse and people calling on behalf of victims.

The allegations are being handled by the Sexual Crime Management Unit Office, the central point of contact for all reports of clerical sexual abuse made to gardaí. A public inquiry is to be conducted following the revelations.


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