Abuse survivors unhappy at fund’s operation

Almost two complaints a week were made against Caranua last year by survivors of institutional child abuse.

Abuse survivors unhappy at fund’s operation

Caranua was established by the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Act 2012 to oversee the use of the cash contributions of up to €110m, pledged by the religious congregations, to support the needs of survivors of institutional child abuse.

The fund is to provide survivors with their health, educational and housing needs.

Figures released under Freedom of Information show that, between April 2015 and February of this year, 75 formal complaints were made by survivors about the service offered by Caranua — almost two every week. The vast majority relate to “disrespectful/poor treatment”. However, others include “failure to protect confidentiality”, “discriminatory treatment” and “failure to meet timeline”.

Tom Cronin of Irish Survivors of Institutional Abuse International said he believed the figures to be “the tip of the iceberg”.

“ A lot of survivors are vulnerable and timid and don’t bother to complain. If Caranua is working, then why are so many survivors unhappy with it? We are just ignored. It’s a situation where we have to beg for our own money — money that we are entitled to. It’s disgraceful what they are doing,” he said.

Mr Cronin said the system was “completely ad hoc” and that while surivivors could get money for certain home renovations, finance for essential white goods like fridges, washing machines, and cookers was denied.

He also queried Caranua’s refusal to release money to survivors who wanted finance to help pay for their own burials.

“Many survivors are worse off now than they were when they received the redress awards. In their twilight years, survivors are being denied what was awarded to them by bureacracy,” he said.

Mr Cronin said he believed the State was hoping survivors would die off so the fund could be closed and re-directed into other areas.

A spokesperson for Caranua denied the level of complaints was high and said that it was always working to make the application process more survivor centred.

“Ideally, we would have no complaints. However, of the over 5,180 part one applications we have received up to February, that figure [75 complaints] represents about 1.5%.

“Obviously, we want that figure down to 0%. In general, we are always trying to iron out our processess to make them as person centred as possible. We talk to a lot of survivors and groups and we are always trying to adapt to best suit the needs of the people we are supporting,” she said.

The spokesperson acknowledged that goods and money for burial was not permitted under the current guidelines but said that, due to survivors’ concerns on this issue, it was “currently under review”.

She also denied that there was any intention to close the fund before all the money has been spent.

“We don’t intend to have any money left over as we can see that the need is there for the money to be spent in the survivor population and that is our intention. As of today, we have spent around €45m in different supports out of the €110m so we are going through it rapidly,” she said.

Caranua will hold an information meeting in Cork on April 23 and Galway on May 14, and is encouraging as many potential applicants as possible to attend.

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