His department has concluded that the statutory fund, which is still short over €7m of the amount promised by at least one religious order, will be fully spent on services for past residents of institutions for whom it was originally intended.
There had been calls during a review of the fund’s administration to widen the eligibility to other survivors, such as those who had been through mother and baby homes, Magdalene laundries, the Bethany home in Dublin, or other institutions.
The Department of Education review allowed for such expansions to be considered only if it first established there was likely to be an underspend of the existing fund.
The application of several possible scenarios indicated that the entire fund will be used up through supporting people covered under the original eligibility criteria. These are people who qualify as former residents of the institutions which were covered by the Residential Institutions Redress Board.
While Caranua set a target of reaching half the estimated 12,000 living residential survivors in 2016, it has so far made payments to 5,068 people. They have received €72.5m to assist with a range of services, most of it for housing (€51.3m) and health (€19.7m) needs, with the rest going on education and exceptional needs.
After accounting for applications on hand and anticipated applications at the end of 2017, totalling €17.5m, and future administration costs, it was estimated that €8.7m would remain to be distributed for recipients.
The review was carried out in accordance with a provision in the 2012 law establishing Caranua to administer the fund. It concluded it was clear there would be no underspend of the fund by those currently eligible to apply to it for support.
“Until the fund is exhausted, it ought to continue to be used for the benefit of those survivors who meet the criteria originally devised,” it said.
Caranua chairman David O’Callaghan said last night that the review’s options recommended for future management of the fund will be considered before it responds.
These included continuing a €15,000 cap on supports an individual can receive, despite some submissions to the review advocating it be lifted or increased. Another option is for more intensive planning of how remaining funds are distributed, with a suggestion of extra steps to ensure services are made available on a needs basis and as fairly as possible.
Separately, Mr Bruton is seeking abuse survivors’ views on the format and subjects for discussion in a public forum to consider their opinions about how the State has responded to the issue of institutional abuse.