Abuse victims’ fund running out of money

Abuse victims fund running out money sets closure date
David O’Callaghan

Abuse victims’ fund running out of money sets cut off date for applications

The controversial fund set up for Irish survivors of institutional abuse has set a closing date for applications of 1 August because it has run out of money.

Caranua, which was accused by TDs and Senators on the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee of squandering money intended for victims to cover its own large administrative costs and expenditure on plush offices, has said that it is running out of funds and will accept its final applications on 1 August.

The agency was set up in 2014 to divide the €110 million compensation fund from religious congregations between people who were abused in institutions as children to help with health, housing or educational needs, nothing more.

Criticisms

It has been publicly criticised for excessive delays in processing applications, hos- tile, insensitive and unhelpful staff, excessive administrative costs and for paying out dis- proportionately large sums to a small number of survivors in the early days.

The organisation received €102.97 million and spent more than €80 million of which, it says, €72 million went to survivors. Two per cent of applicants were awarded one fifth of the total fund by early last year,the organisation told the Oireachtas public accounts committee in April last year: two people received €100,000 or more; three people were given €90,000 or more; and another three were granted between €80,000 and €85,000.

The organisation says it is still waiting for €7 million from the religious congregations which ran the institutions.

Last year The Times’ Irish edition, which has extensively covered the story over a long period of time, revealed Caranua had spent large sums on PR, a new logo, office space and a consultant to draw up wording to financially penalise certain survivors’ for “unreasonable levels of contact”.

In a statement issued to the Irish World Caranua said: Following the recently published Review of Eligibility to apply to Caranua, the Board today (Thursday) announced that survivors who may be eligible to apply for funding for services must return their application form to Caranua by Wednesday 1st August 2018 to ensure that their application can be processed.

The Board of Caranua have made this decision taking into account the Department’s Review, the expenditure to date and the estimation of future possible expenditure of the limited Fund provided to Caranua to support survivors.

Equitable

Caranua Chairperson David O’Callaghan said: “As outlined in the different expenditure scenarios in the Department’s Review, we must work to ensure the remainder of the Fund provided to Caranua supports survivors in the most equitable way possible.

“We will continue to support survivors who have already applied to Caranua and we encourage survivors who may be eligible but have not yet applied to send in their application form by 1st August 2018. It is vitally important that we re-double our efforts to ensure any survivors who may be eligible come forward and apply to the Fund. We also ask survivor support groups to continue to help us reach survivors who have yet to apply.”

“To date,Caranua has been provided with €102.97Mofthe committed €110M contributions from the religious congregations to support survivors of institutional abuse.

“As at 30th April 2018, a total of €80.3 million had been spent, of this €72.5 million has been spent on services for survivors who have applied to Caranua.

Health €19.7 million
Housing €51.3 million
Education 1.3 million
Exceptional Needs €0.19 million
Administration* €8.26 million

Mr O’Callaghan added: “We have been determined to utilise the Fund provided to Caranua to the maximum extent possible to support survivors who are eligible to apply.

“We are very aware that many survivors coming forward need support not only from Caranua, but also from other State agencies. A key challenge for the Board is how we use our limited staff resources to ensure that other State agencies recognise the individual needs of survivors of institutional abuse, and that we help create linkages into State structures that will support survivors in the long term.

“Following previous discussions with the Department in respect of the need for the provision of state supports to survivors, we welcome the announcement that there will be consultations with survivors and an interdepartmental committee convened to examine how existing mainstream state services can best meet the needs of survivors into the future.

“Since the Fund, and therefore the lifetime of Caranua, is limited, it is crucial that we continue to build strong links with mainstream services and ensure that survivors are linked with them. We will continue to work with relevant statutory bodies, developing partnerships to work towards building awareness of the needs of survivors and helping to improve responses to those needs.

“The Board and staff of Caranua are committed to working to ensure that the remainder of the Fund is distributed as fairly as possible.

We look forward to continuing our engagement with survivors through face to face outreach, public meetings, daily phone and email contact and by working with other organisations that support survivors.


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