Sisters to challenge refusal to allow Redress Board application

Two sisters who allege they were abused in residential institutions have brought a challenge to the refusal, on grounds of being out of time, to allow them bring an application for redress.

Two sisters who allege they were abused in residential institutions have brought a challenge to the refusal, on grounds of being out of time, to allow them bring an application for redress.

The sisters, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, were admitted to convent in the South East during the 1960s following the death of their mother, where they claim they suffered abuse.

The High Court heard today that they did not make a claim for compensation to the Residential Institutions Redress Board till after the December 2005 deadline expired.

This, they claim, was because the convent in question was not on list of institutions which the scheme applied to under the name it was commonly known. As a results the sisters believed they were not eligible for compensation.

The sisters both moved to rural parts of UK, where they currently reside, did not meet up with members of the Irish community and were not generally familiar with the redress scheme, the deadline of which was December 2005.

However they did become aware of the redress scheme in 2004 after their brother received compensation.

It was recommended to them to make an application and they looked up information on the internet. However they claim that there was no reference to the convent where they had been resident.

However they subsequently learned that the convent the both resided at was listed under a title they were not familiar with, and not the name it was commonly known.

Following advice they received at a London Irish Centre in 2010 they made applications under the scheme for an extension of time to apply for compensation. However last November those applications were dismissed by the Board on the grounds that no exception circumstances exist.

Lawyers on their behalf dispute the boards findings. They argued that their case is exceptional, and that the board's refusal is irrational, and a denial of their rights to fair procedures and natural and Constitutional justice.

In their High Court proceedings against the Residential institutional Redress Board they are seeking orders quashing the Board's decision of November 9 last to refuse to grant them an extension of time to bring their claim.

They are seeking declarations that their circumstances were exceptional, that they had insufficient opportunity to submit their applications and the Board failed to properly publicise and identify the institution they were in by the name it was commonly known.

They are further seeking orders that the Board accept their applications for an award under the scheme.

Leave to bring the challenge was granted on an ex-parte (one side only) basis, by Mr Justice Michael Peart. The Judge made the matter returnable to a date in March.

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