Abuse survivors appealing funding refusal doubles

The number of survivors of child abuse in residential institutions who have appealed decisions to refuse them funding under a special assistance scheme financed by religious orders more than doubled last year.
Abuse survivors appealing funding refusal doubles

A total of 99 appeals against decisions of Caranua — otherwise known as the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Board — were lodged during 2015, up from 47 in 2014.

It comes after the Irish Examiner revealed in April that almost two complaints a week were made against Caranua last year by survivors of institutional child abuse.

The vast majority related to “disrespectful/poor treatment”. However, others include “failure to protect confidentiality”, “discriminatory treatment” and “failure to meet timeline”.

The appeals officer, Patrick Whelan said the 110% increase in appeals last year was on one level “hardly surprising” because of increasing public awareness about Caranua.

The organisation was established in 2013 to oversee the fund which has been pledged a total of €110m by religious congregations to assist survivors of child abuse at industrial schools and other residential institutions. A total of €96m had been received by mid-2016.

The religious orders have given a commitment to pay over the remainder before the end of 2017.

It is estimated that around 15,000 individuals who as children experienced child abuse in an institutional setting and who received financial compensation through settlements, the courts or the Residential Institutions Redress Board are eligible to access the fund for specified approved services such as health, education and housing supports.

Since the establishment of the fund over €41.6m has been paid to almost 3,000 survivors.

Around 60% of all eligible survivors are based in Ireland and a further 33% in the UK.

Mr Whelan pointed out the number of appeals was still only a tiny proportion of applications made to Caranua for funding last year.

Around 13,000 applications for financial assistance were made in 2015 — up from 6,500 in 2014.

Mr Whelan said a majority of appeals related to home improvements or repairs with many claimants also raising issues about the manner in which Caranua processed their applications.

Of 66 cases finalised by the appeals officer last year —the original decision of Caranua was affirmed in 61% of appeals. Around 25% were referred back to Caranua for further specific action.

Just 4.5% of appeals were upheld while 9% were either discontinued or withdrawn.

Mr Whelan welcomed the fact Caranua had accepted recommendations he made last year to extend the services for which the fund could be used.

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