Education Minister Mary Hanafin has told the Dáil there are no plans to add further institutions to the list covered by the Residential Institutions Redress Board (RIRB).
This is the independent body set up in 2002 to compensate those abused as children in industrial schools, reformatories and other institutions subject to State regulation or inspection. There are 144 institutions on the RIRB list, and the deadline for applications is midnight next Thursday.
But the Labour Party is demanding a number of institutions be added to the list and the deadline be extended so former residents of those facilities will have time to apply for compensation. At a press conference in Dublin yesterday, Labour highlighted the cases of Marie Therese O’Loughlin and Derek Leinster, both of whom were in attendance.
Ms O’Loughlin has been staging a continuous protest outside the Dáil for eight weeks, involving her sleeping at night in front of the Leinster House gates in a bid to get the Morning Star mother-and-child home added to the list.
When she was 18 months old, Ms O’Loughlin was badly burned in the Morning Star when the high chair in which she was seated toppled into an open fire.
Mr Leinster, meanwhile, told in his book Hannah’s Shame how he suffered abuse and neglect as a child in the Bethany mother- and-baby home.
However, neither home is covered by the RIRB.
Ms Hanafin told Opposition TDs who raised Ms O’Loughlin’s protest that only institutions “subject to regulation or inspection by a public body” could come under the aegis of the RIRB.
In relation to Morning Star, she said: “My department has received a response from the Department of Health and Children stating it does not have any records which indicate that a public body had a regulatory or inspection function in relation to this unit.”
But Labour justice spokesman Joe Costello said the existence of records “as the defining criteria” was hugely problematic.
“The Department of Education has already admitted that major gaps exist in its records and files, particularly in relation to industrial and reformatory schools,” Mr Costello said.
Christine Buckley of the Aislinn Centre, which assists survivors of abuse, estimated as many as 800 people from six institutions could miss out on compensation if they are not added to the list.