Abuse survivor wants swift end to turmoil at Right of Place group

FORMER Fianna Fáil mayor and institutional abuse survivor Michael O’Brien said it was imperative that ongoing difficulties with Cork-based survivor group Right of Place be “solved once and for all”.

Mr O’Brien was speaking after attending a meeting with the Kerry branch of the organisation at which members were expressing their discontent with how the organisation has and is being run.

Right of Place has been in turmoil since last year when it emerged it had received hundreds of thousands in donations from religious orders. Members claimed they knew nothing about the money, and also questioned how HSE funding in the region of about €200,000 a year was being spent.

The project founder Noel Barry has always strenuously denied any wrong doing and the HSE maintains issues within Right of Place are merely organisational and do not warrant investigation. However, Oliver Burke, acting administrator of Right of Place, who entered into a conciliatory HSE-brokered agreement with Mr Barry in April, maintains many members will not give their backing to Right of Place until there is an independent investigation into how the charity was run in the past and how state money was spent. Last night, the organisation, which is a company with charitable status, held an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) to elect a new board of directors.

As part of the HSE agreement, Mr Barry had to resign his position as board of director of the Right of Place building project, one arm of the organisation. It is unclear what his future role will be, but those close to Mr Barry have suggested he “owns” the foundation as he founded it.

Mr Burke, however, claims members do not want Mr Barry to remain.

Survivor Michael O’Brien said he had attended a meeting with members in Kerry and was appalled by what he was hearing. “I am getting calls from Right of Place members all the time telling me they are not seeing the benefits of government funding which has been given to it.”

Mr O’Brien along with Tom Hayes, who heads up another survivor group Alliance, said there was a complete lack of trust in both the management and HSE to properly regulate Right of Place and this was causing members to look elsewhere for support.

Mr Hayes said Right of Place members are looking to his group for assistance. “We are not funded for this and our committee members have been complaining from December 2009 to date that both the HSE and Department of Education appear not to take our concerns seriously,” he said.

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