Questions over funding of legal action against abuse survivors

CONCERNS have been raised over how a High Court action – brought against his own members by the head of a group for survivors of institutional abuse – is being funded.

Last November, Noel Barry of Cork-based charity, Right of Place, took out an injunction against a new committee seeking to take over the running of the organisation. The case has been adjourned three times since.

Patrick Walsh, British spokesman for the Irish Survivors of Child Abuse (SOCA), said any money given to Right of Place to help victims of abuse should not be used to fund an action over an internal dispute.

Mr Walsh said he was very interested to know how the legal action was being paid for.

“Any money that this organisation has received for charitable endeavour should not be used in the High Court,” he said. “That money which is supposed to help members of the group could be used against them is an obscenity.”

It is understood the HSE has instructed Right of Place management that funding provided by it is not to be used to support the legal action, and that it will be monitoring the situation.

Right of Place is being asked to urgently furnish the HSE with details of the group’s structure and finance, including the number of bank accounts within the organisation, how petty cash is managed and details of the number of clients who attended meetings or were referred for counselling.

Mr Walsh said the HSE should have had proper management controls in place at Right of Place since the beginning, and said he believed it was only because of public exposure by the Irish Examiner that it was showing an active interest in the matter.

Right of Place is run by Mr Barry, a victim of abuse at the Rosminian school at Upton, Co Cork. In 2009, the HSE allocated the group €337,500 and the Department of Education gave it €75,331. Since 2002 it has collected more than €2.2m from the HSE, and the health board previously, and more than €1m from the Department of Education. A further €88,000 was secured in National Lottery funding.

Right of Place has also received unknown amounts from Catholic bishops and religious orders.

The HSE has told the group no further funding will be given until the internal dispute is settled and members prove they can manage public money appropriately.

Mr Barry has refused to comment or answer any questions relating to the running of Right of Place.

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