Abuse charity gets €250k despite legal row

A LEGAL firm has written to the secretaries general of the Departments of Health and Education, outlining serious concerns about a Cork-based organisation for survivors of institutional abuse.

Right of Place has been mired in controversy since late last year when a dispute between the project founder Noel Barry and members seeking to replace him was the subject of High Court proceedings.

Since then, the HSE has worked to resolve the dispute.

A new board of directors has been appointed but members maintain there are still serious issues that have not been addressed.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that the HSE has given at least €234,000 in funding to Right of Place this year, despite saying it would not give further monies until issues within the organisation had been sorted out. The Department of Education gave the charity €16,000 this year.

Between 2001 and 2009 four Irish survivor groups received funding from the department totalling €2.1 million, half of which went to Right of Place.

Cork-based legal firm Stokes and Co has a number of clients who are former employees of Right of Place, and another who is not an employee.

They are preparing to take cases against Right of Place. There are claims of unfair dismissal, bullying and assault. Another client of the firm recently won an unfair dismissal case in the circuit court and was awarded €6,000.

Right of Place, however, is claiming it is insolvent, so cannot pay the man.

A solicitor with Stokes and Co said she has written several letters to the Government, outlining her concerns and telling officials that victims are being further abused by the way they are being treated.

She claimed Right of Place should be closed down.

According to the HSE, Right Of Place is transitioning to new governance arrangements. Once these are in place, the HSE will meet with the organisation to agree a model of service and related funding.

“The HSE is not aware of solicitor correspondence in relation to employment law concerns. Such matters would be for the incoming board of directors to address in the first instance,” it said.

“The issue of payment for the circuit court award is a matter solely for ROP to respond to.”

A Department of Health spokeswoman said the letter from Stokes and Co had been received and its contents were being considered. It said the organisation has recently elected a new board of directors and hoped to move on from recent controversy with a new vision for the future.

One of the new directors said the incoming board was still in a transition period but was determined to move on and build on good work of the past.

He said problems of the past did need to be looked at and aired.

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