Two abuse survivor groups ask PAC to investigate Cork-based charity

THE Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has received two separate requests to investigate a Cork-based charity for survivors of institutional abuse.

Tom Hayes of the Alliance survivor group and Patrick Walsh of SOCA [survivors of child abuse] recently wrote to the PAC raising concerns about Right of Place, an organisation which has received at least €2.4 million from the HSE since 2002, a further €1m from the Department of Education and funds from the National Lottery.

“We as a group have raised these concerns with the Department of Education and Skills and with the Residential Institutions Redress Unit in Athlone over many years,” Mr Hayes wrote to Bernard Allen, chairman of the committee.

“Indeed, the Alliance wrote to every councillor in Cork and asked that they please look again at the facilities in Lower Glanmire Road called Right of Place. We emailed the mayor also and asked that he withdraws the facilities at that address because of our concerns.”

Mr Walsh said SOCA and others had for “many years” been complaining about the “extraordinary conduct” of the group. Mr Walsh said nothing short of a full inquiry would suffice.

In a separate letter to HSE manager David Gaskin, who has sanctioned funding to Right of Place over the years, Mr Hayes asked why he was continuing to allow the “debacle” to continue.

“We have tried to raise the difficulties that we and other survivors were having because of your failures, we wrote to you and informed you of these, we visited Cork and held meetings with former residents to properly inform ourselves of the situation and then contacted you again, without any acknowledgement from you and others responsible for regulating or holding to account those responsible for the day to day running of Right of Place,” he wrote.

“You have done a great disservice to survivors. You have compounded this by your complete failure to act in a credible way with any integrity.”

The PAC said it had referred the matter to the HSE and the Department of Education for notes.

Meanwhile although Right of Place, founded by former Upton resident Noel Barry, claims to have 1,500 members, and has received funding on this basis, it is understood there may be far less than that.

Another former Upton resident living in Britain contacted the Irish Examiner saying he was a member of this group up to about a year ago.

“I notified Noel Barry that I wished my name to be removed from their databank. I never received a reply. Last week I received a letter from a Mr Michael Walsh, addressed to me as ‘Dear Member’, and which poses a few questions from me – just where did he get my address and details, and it would appear that his new group is simply taking over from where the old group left off. They will carry on receiving funding from the HSE, on the back of members they claim to represent, but it is so wrong, as they were never mandated to do this, and I certainly did not request them to represent me.”

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