The Shame of Ireland
It will also spend almost €10,000 a year from the fund on parking spaces for its staff as part of an office move set to cost €270,000 per annum. More abuse funds were spent redecorating its existing office last year.
Caranua was set up to distribute money provided by religious orders to survivors of abuse at industrial schools. They can apply for help based on their health, housing or educational needs.
There is currently an eight-month delay between survivors applying to Caranua and receiving an assessment call, after which they must wait even longer before they find out if they will be granted any support.
The most recent figures available show that there were 471 people waiting for assessment at the end of March last year. Earlier this year The Times spoke to ten survivors who have had negative experiences in dealing with the agency. Some said that they had waited up to 18 months for cheques to be paid. Others complained of calls not being answered and emails not being replied to in a timely manner. They also accused staff of making hurtful remarks and said that they were afraid to report their grievances in case it led to their payments being cancelled.
Caranua previously admitted that it had used “expensive” agency staff in 2015, hiring 17 extra people on top of the 10 core staff already approved.
Documents given to the public accounts committee (PAC) last week revealed that the full bill for agency staff between 2014 and 2017 was €2,017,745. All of Caranua’s administrative costs are paid for by redress funds. The amount of staff it can hire is controlled by the Department of Education, which granted permission for the agency to hire ten people in 2014. Caranua now has 24 full-time staff, following a review last year.
A source close to the board of Caranua said that the monthly bill for the agency staff was so large that board members had thought it was the annual figure. “The amount we were spending on staff costs was absolutely eye-watering,” the source said.
In a submission to the PAC, Caranua said: “The use of agency staff, while a good stopgap, is problematic for a number of reasons. It is expensive; agency staff are, by definition, usually seeking full-time employment and when such becomes available they leave, leading to high turnover and loss of skill and expertise and a significant disruption to the relationships that we aim to build with our applicants.”
Several of the original ten staff had previously worked with the Education Finance Board, which offered financial assistance for training and education to former institution residents. It is understood that none of these staff members still work for Caranua.
The PAC sought clarification on claims that Caranua was spending money on a counselling service run by the Catholic Church. Towards Healing, which is funded exclusively through religious organisations and Catholic dioceses, has received €94,648 from Caranua’s fund between 2015 and 2016 under a “memorandum of understanding” for its services. Caranua said it informs survivors of the “background” of the counselling service.
Earlier this month The Times reported that Caranua was set to use €720,000 of redress funds earmarked for survivors of abuse on rent over a three-year period because of a failure to reach an alternative arrangement with the Department of Education.
Last year, the state agency spent an undisclosed amount of survivors’ money renovating its current accommodation, which it will move from shortly. Survivors are not usually permitted to visit Caranua’s offices and some had complained they had been turned away by security when they tried to access the building to find out why they had not been granted funding for medical or housing needs.
New documents given to the PAC reveal that board members demanded an explanation of the need to move offices last April but no business case was presented. Board members said that they had repeatedly asked Mary Higgins, the chief executive, to explain what the business case for the move was but she declined to do so. Caranua did not comment.
The full cost of the relocation will be more than €271,396 a year, including VAT, a service charge and €9,000 per year for staff parking.
Several members of the PAC had appealed to the government to intervene to stop large amounts of the redress fund being spent on rent.
A spokeswoman for the Office of Public Works said: “The OPW is moving Caranua and the National Educational Psychological Services to a new leased premises and Caranua [has] agreed to pay rent for its portion of the building.”
The comptroller and auditor-general, the state spending watchdog, had previously identified issues with financial control at Caranua.. Two per cent of applicants had been awarded one fifth of the total fund so far, according to evidence given by Caranua executives to the PAC last month. Two people received €100,000 or more; three people were given €90,000 or more; and another three were granted between €80,000 and €85,000.
In June Caranua imposed a €15,000 limit on payouts to guarantee the fund’s “sustainability”. It said that the new limit would apply to applications from June 1 last year, but that some applicants would be “offered” the option to choose to limit their application if it was submitted before June but they still had not received a response. This newspaper has seen evidence that Caranua was attempting to impose the limit retrospectively on unresolved applications received well before the deadline.
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A Survivor I know of has had Cancer Three times 7 Operations, is partly Deaf from having been lifted up and Beaten around the ears as a child in the Industrial Child Prison ,After 40 years plucked up the Courage and went back to Ireland to try to get family records Trace Siblings or any relatives Just 2 weeks after a CANCER Operation was on Chemo But the Survivor was Bullied , Attacked, Shouted at and accused of trying to bring the Roman Catholic Church down because the survivor said which Hell Hole they were detained >Against their Will as a small Child< This Survivor has Never had any HELP from any of the so called services NONE EVER. some Died without ever getting as much as a Apology , Where is the LIST of Names of the Survivors That Those who say they Run services WHERE IS THE LIST or are they claiming FUNDING for survivors who have already passed on ????? It has always been only about their FUNDING and Huge Bank accounts NEVER about the Real SURVIVORS. SHAME ON YOU ALL IT WILL COME BACK ON YOU , You Get Back What You Give Out> Remember That.
If The 'Service' (Caranua) Is Needed At All Then It Needs To Be The Very Best It Can Be For The People It Is For, ie The Survivors Of Irish State And Church Abuse. It Should Be Open, Honest, Friendly, Helpful And Proud In Delivering A Service All Survivors Benefit From According To Their Actual Real Needs As Stated In Their Applications. Needs Are Not Just Now. Needs Change. Needs Are Ongoing. Caranua Needs To Meet The Needs Of All For Whom The Service Is For! The Ceo Shows No Empathy For The Survivors Of Irish State And Church Abuse. She Appears To Have Been Selected As An Inappropriate Person. Her Behaviour At PAC Demonstrated Affected Person. Mind Controlled. The Strings Behind Her Back Clearly Visible. Her Frequent Attempts To Stop Laughing In Vain. Obviously A Collared Person And Doing Their Deeds. All In Plain Sight Of Course.. Who Would Replace Her?
Patrick Cleary – Application Advisor
he is jack as he's assigned to me
I Asked Because Thought Had Heard He Had "Left".
Caranua are an agency of the Government and they have been mistreating survivors, giving some survivors more funds than others, not giving help to survivors for which the fund was set up to help, making many of us be limited to what we can apply for and we are now being discriminated against again - how long must these people be allowed to continue the abuse of survivors before somebody does something - I think at this stage Caranua its CEO and board of directors should be held for crimnial mismanagement of the survivors fund. The CEO is accountable to its board and the board should be held accountable as they have not adhered to their code of conduct to which they signed up to and to protect the intrests of survivors.
Survivors Accused Of Fraud Instead.
Hello all, have heard that caranua is coming over to the Irish embassy in July, don't have time right now. It would be good if (when we do get a date) to voice our thoughts on the ceo of caranua and on the company. they are spending our fund as though it is theirs, we need to make a stand outside the Embassy and it would be great if some of us could attend. I for one will be there, it might be difficult for some survivors in Ireland to attend but those of us can attend we will make a stand. Wish us luck, thanks