Right of Place - Taxpayer is the latest abuse victim

The Cork-based charity for victims of institutional abuse, Right of Place, has been engaged in massive infighting to the extent that it is not serving the best interests of those for whom it was supposedly established.

Instead, it appears to be preoccupied with allegations of bullying, unfair dismissal and assault.

Lawyers preparing to take abuse cases against Right of Place suggest that it should be closed down in order to get to the root of the organisation’s difficulties. It ought to be serving the interests of victims of institutional abuse, but the organisation seems more intent on institutionalising new forms of abuse, not the least of which is the abuse of Irish taxpayers.

Some members of staff are on sick leave due to stress and former members are claiming for unfair dismissal. One former employee was recently awarded €6,000 for unfair dismissal, but Right of Place claims that it cannot pay the award because it is insolvent.

The Health Service Executive announced it was cutting off all funding to the charity until it sorted out its issues, but it has continued to pay this dysfunctional organisation. For what?

The HSE has given Right of Place €234,900 so far in 2010, and it received a further €16,000 from the Department of Education. Thus, it has already received over a quarter of a million euro this year. In the three previous years it received an average of over €331,300 a year from the HSE.

Between 2001 and 2009 the organisation received around half of the funding paid to the survivor groups of institutional abuse. Moreover, the charity operates a €1.2m building, funded by a capital grant through the Department of the Environment.

Right of Place pays its ‘project leader’, founder, cooks, cleaners, security staff and administrative personnel. But what are they doing for the victims of institutional abuse that they are supposedly helping?

Nobody seems to be answering vital questions. The whole project is taking on aspects of a bottomless pit into which taxpayers’ money is being recklessly dumped. A spokesperson for the Department of Health says that it is considering the situation.

Right of Place recently elected a new board of directors, but one of its members says that it is in transition and past problems will have to be examined. These issues must be tackled now.

Charities are dependent on the goodwill of the public, and nothing generates donor fatigue or undermines a charity faster than the perception that those running the institution are just helping themselves, rather than assisting the people they are supposed serving.

Taking unfair advantage of the good nature of people has insidious implications for all charities, as it undermines faith and confidence in other charities, even though they may be operating in an exemplary manner.



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