€8.5m funding shortfall for abuse victims

€8.5m funding shortfall for abuse victims

Niall Murray, Education Correspondent

Almost €8.5m has yet to be provided to the Caranua fund for institutional abuse survivors, which closes for applications today.

The fund’s administrators would not say how many applications have been received since announcing two months ago that August 1 would be the final date for claims. The most recent figures suggest fewer than 100 people applied to Caranua for supports in the month after the May 31 announcement.

The fund was set up to disburse €110m promised in 2009 by a number of religious orders as a voluntary offer. The money is separate from €127m previously pledged in return for indemnity from claims relating to historic child abuse at residential institutions.

As the organisation set up to administer the fund, Caranua has spent €74m on housing, health, education, and other services for more than 5,000 institutional abuse survivors up to the end of May, with over €8m in administration costs also paid out from the fund.

The Department of Education has so far provided €101.59m, leaving €8.41m outstanding from the maximum €110m fund allowable under the 2012 Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Act. This is because the Christian Brothers order has yet to pay €8.8m it owes under the deal.

It is anticipated that the congregation will complete its cash contribution this year and therefore Caranua will have its full allocation of funding available to it at that stage,” a department spokesperson told the Irish Examiner.

The Christian Brothers had intended to pay its outstanding contribution from proceeds of the sale of land for housing development at Clonkeen College in Blackrock, Co Dublin. Legal proceedings around the €18m sale were only resolved six weeks ago in a settlement with representatives of the second-level school, who contested plans to remove some of their playing fields.

At the end of June, Caranua had almost 2,400 open applications, including 274 from people who had previously applied for assistance. Between May 18 — nine working days before the final closing date announcement — and June 30, total applications only increased from 6,225 to 6,327.

Caranua undertook a limited campaign to raise awareness of the August 1 closing date, in order to restrict spending. The 2012 law establishing Caranua requires that all administration costs must be paid from the €110m total fund, meaning spending on staff and communication limits how much can be paid to survivors.

The main publicity spending around the August 1 application closing date was on newspaper advertising in seven Sunday titles here, two Northern Ireland newspapers, two Irish community newspapers in Britain, and the Irish Voice in the US.

While 77% of all applicants up to June 30 lived in Ireland, 20% were UK residents, 1.2% in USA and Canada, 0.6% in Australia and New Zealand, and less than 1% lived elsewhere.

Before the May announcement, Caranua met survivor support groups and counselling services in Ireland and Britain to advise them of plans to close applications shortly. Organisations working with people who may be eligible for funding were also asked to share information and posters, including GPs, post offices, libraries, social welfare offices, public representatives, older people’s organisations, and health agencies.

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