The Shame of Ireland
Caranua spent funds : in bars and restaurants
We have survivors going hungry, some are homeless and some couldn't afford a bag of coal to heat their homes in the winter, "CARANUA" are no better than "PICK POCKETS" theft of abuse survivors funds!
Allowing Staff Wages And Expenses To Come Out Of The Fund For Survivors Was And Continues To Be An Act Of Aggression.
It Can Be Argued The Fund Set Up With All The Grief Caused To The Survivors Was And Continues To Be Revenge For Daring To Complain In The First Place With Regards To Church And State Abuse .... Continues
For Members Unable To Read The Full Media Article : -
A state agency has been branded “disgusting” and “scandalous” for using abuse survivors’ money on €950 bar bills and high-end meals.
Caranua, which was set up to make payments from a fund for survivors of residential institutions, has refused to respond to questions from The Times about its credit card bills. Staff spent €7,000 on accessories for an office it was about to leave and used the redress fund for €700 meals for its chief executive and board members.
Thomas Byrne, the Fianna Fáil education spokesman, said Caranua’s “outrageous” spending must be examined by the public accounts committee.
The agency administers a €110 million fund set up to pay for the health, housing and educational needs of survivors. Caranua’s only function is to divide the fund between applicants.
Credit card bills released under freedom of information requests reveal that the survivors fund was used to pay for staff nights out in Dublin totalling almost €1,000. Caranua spent €750 and €200 at Vinoteca, a wine and cocktail bar on Merrion Row, on December 9 and October 27 last year respectively. For a staff event on October 19 last year, Caranua spent €142 on pizza.
“That is disgusting, that is outrageous,” Mr Byrne said. “Caranua was never set up with the idea that the abuse fund would be used for a €700 bill at a wine bar. That is sickening, I don’t know what else I can say. I think the public accounts committee must examine this, the education committee certainly will but Caranua needs to be directly accountable to PAC. The corporate oversight at the Department of Education also leaves a lot of be desired.”
The Department of Education declined to comment. Caranua will wind down when the finite fund has been exhausted. Its administrative costs come from the same pot of money.
Mary Higgins, the chief executive, had a meeting involving an €83 meal at Kazan, an upmarket restaurant in Pimlico, London, in April 2015. The following month she also used the same credit card to take her staff for a €280 meal at Piccolino restaurant, Birmingham, on May 8 and a €200 meal at Cielo, also in Birmingham, the next day.
Caranua holds outreach events across Ireland and the UK so that survivors, including those having issues with their application, can meet the board. It spent €23,748 on hotels for three events across Cork, Manchester and London, including €16,523 at the Radisson Hotel, London.
The agency credit card was used to buy €107.01 worth of refreshments from M&S for a staff board meeting on June 10, 2015. In the same year, Caranua imposed a €15,000 limit on survivors who were applying for help paying for health, education or housing needs. At the time, the state agency said it was trying to protect the fund.
Caranua spent more than €7,000 on office supplies and improvements at Arnotts and Ikea in one year, a total of €5,675 at Ikea on office supplies and improvements on four dates between December 2015 and 2016, plus €1,754 from Arnotts on September 21 and 26, and October 17 last year.
This is despite the fact the agency knew it was due to leave its office early this year. It spent another €20,000 contracting decorators for the same office and intends to use more of the fund renovating its new Dublin city centre offices this year.
Before it enters a rent contract, Caranua must obtain the permission of the Department of Education, which oversees the agency. The department has since admitted that it knew that the fund was being used to pay rent to the Office of Public Works for the last year, without its permission.
Seán Ó Foghlú, the general secretary at the department, wrote to the public accounts committee stating it had no objection to the fund being used to pay rent, despite the department having not previously given its formal approval.
“It was, and is, the department’s view that statutory bodies such as Caranua must procure their own office accommodation and to meet any related costs from within the resources through which they are funded. The department accepted that the levy/contribution was payable,” Mr Ó Foghlú said.
On July 8 last year, €5,000 was transferred from the survivors fund to Caranua’s credit card account. Four days later, €3,546 was spent on membership of Ibec.
Caranua has not explained to The Times why it needed Ibec membership. It did not respond to that question or any of the others sent to it in the past week about its credit card spending.
Over the past few months, the agency has also refused to comment on a number of issues raised by The Times.
Almost €6,000 was spent by Caranua on medical bills at private hospitals over the past two years. In its freedom of information response, Caranua said it “occasionally” has to make payments for applicants using the state agency credit card. “Usually, these payments are for medical appointments or another service that is urgent,” it said.
Survivors previously told The Times that they have experienced delays of up to 18 months in having their applications, including for health needs, processed by Caranua. In some cases, survivors miss urgent appointments because they have not received a cheque from the agency and cannot afford to pay themselves.
At one of its first board meetings on May 9, 2013, members agreed that “no funds should be spent on advertising in the media”. Despite this, in 2016 the agency used €1,021 of the fund on advertisements in newspapers.
Since 2013, Caranua has spent at least €4 million on administrative costs, including business consultants and PR agencies. A large amount did not get the required approval until 2015, when the Department of Education retrospectively sanctioned the payments, in many cases two years after the money was spent.
snouts in the trough.