A CONTROVERSIAL government-funded charity for survivors of institutional abuse is set to open offices in Galway, Waterford, Limerick and Cork, according to a newsletter published by its new board of directors.
Right of Place in Cork will continue to be funded despite claims that government money — and money donated by religious orders and bishops — was not filtering down to members.
Concerns have been raised continuously over the past 12 months by members, other survivor groups and opposition politicians.
Right of Place has been funded to the tune of at least €2.4 million by the HSE since 2002, with a further €1m coming from the Department of Education.
A large portion of this money was spent on wages and expenses. At one stage the charity had 18 staff, including cooks and security personnel.
However, there is no known record of how hundreds of thousands of euro donated by dioceses and religious orders, such as the Rosminians, was spent and the amounts were never recorded in audited accounts.
Late last year a new treasurer, Tom Brennan, said he could find no “record or evidence” of how anyone except a select inner circle benefited from the charity over a 10-year period.
Shortly after his appointment to the new board of directors, Mr Brennan resigned as he said he could not get answers to the questions he was asking.
However, in a recent newsletter to its members, Right of Place says Mr Brennan stepped down for “personal reasons”.
“I would like to make it very clear I did not step down for personal reasons,” he told the Irish Examiner. “This is more of the bluff and bluster from the new board and I want to put the record straight.”
The newsletter also attacks the Irish Examiner for “pursuing agendas” which it says have caused pain and hardship to survivors.
Ironically, the newsletter offers VEC computer courses, despite the fact that the Right of Place website was discontinued in recent months.
Meanwhile, the Irish Examiner has been contacted by several people who say they never signed up to be members of Right of Place but somehow ended up on the organisation’s database.
A Magdalene survivor in her 70s, living in the US, requested to be taken off the database in 2009 but got no reply and still receives correspondence.
The woman says she never signed up to be a member of Right of Place and the only person she gave her details to was a solicitor travelling in the US with the charity’s founder Noel Barry.
The woman said her concern was that someone had given her private and confidential information to the organisation without her permission.
Right of Place claims to have 1,500 members and has been funded accordingly.
Former treasurer Mr Brennan said he asked to see a database of survivors on several occasions but said he was never given access to it.
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