The Shame of Ireland
This makes for some very disturbing Conclusion on the Collusion between the Department of Education and the Survivors Groups that purport to Represent Survivors?
Monday, December 21, 2009
THE row that broke out between the founder of Right of Place, Noel Barry, and some of its member finally came to a head last month.
At an EGM held by disgruntled membership on November 14 a new committee was elected.
Mr Barry was not present at the meeting.
In a letter to members, the new committee claimed the former committee "failed to provide members with proper informative correspondence detailing the current climate surrounding survivors of institutional abuse" and believe Mr Barry no longer represents their interests.
According to Patrick Walsh of another survivor group SOCA, at the office of An Taoiseach on the evening of June 3, Mr Barry "very rudely" shouted at Brian Cowen that "the religious orders have contributed enough" as per their contribution set out in the April 2002 indemnity agreement.
This angered his membership and other survivor groups.
He also publicly backed a memorial planned by the Government for survivors. Again this is at odds with many of his membership.
According to sources, this latest slight was the catalyst for the coup in Cork last month.
Mr Barry reacted by seeking and obtaining a High Court injunction barring the new committee from taking over the day to day running of the organisation and entering the group's HQ in Glanmire, Co Cork.
He claimed before the High Court that he has been threatened by a group of individuals seeking to take over the running of the organisation.
In an affidavit to the court, Mr Barry said he was bringing the action because he had fears that the individuals had access to confidential information about the group's members who are victims of abuse.
He said he believed the locks on the offices had been changed because when he tried to get access to his office he was unable. He said the individuals in question escorted him to and from the office and locked the door behind him.
His affidavit also said he was on holiday when the meeting to oust him took place. After that meeting a number allegations about him, which he said were untrue, were made.
Mr Barry went on to claim that he found a bread knife stuck in the middle of his desk and that he interpreted this to be a threat to his personal well-being and so approached the gardaí.
An answering affidavit from the four members of the new committee has been lodged in the High Court.
The matter is set to be heard again today, but it is understood it may be adjourned until after the Christmas break.
Tuesday, March 09, 2010
By Jennifer Hough
THE HSE is providing funding to a Cork-based charity for survivors of institutional abuse despite stating it would not do so until “outstanding impediments” to a new contract for 2010 had been finalised.
Right of Place, one of the largest groups for victims of abuse, was ordered as a matter of urgency as far back as October to supply the HSE with in-depth details of the running of the charity, its finances and how many bank accounts and credit cards it had, among other things.
Right of Place is run by Noel Barry, a victim of abuse at the Rosminian school at Upton, Co Cork. In 2009, the HSE allocated the group €337,500 and the Department of Education gave it €75,331. Since 2002 it has collected more than €2.2m from the HSE, and the health board previously, and more than €1m from the Department of Education. A further €88,000 was secured in National Lottery funding.
In December, this paper revealed there were serious questions to be answered as to how money donated by religious orders and the Government had been spent.
Meanwhile, founder Mr Barry sought an injunction locking out a new committee formed by disgruntled members seeking to take control of the organisation.
In a strongly worded letter to a new committee dated December 10, the HSE said it was “concerned and dismayed” at the situation and that clarity was urgently required.
“Time and space afforded by the HSE to various elements within the organisation to resolve their differences must cease. No new service agreement can be considered until matters are resolved, and given the vulnerability of the client group the sooner the better,” the letter stated.
However, the Irish Examiner has learned that the HSE is currently providing a grant of €20,000 a month which, according to the HSE, is to cover the “pay and non-pay costs of the organisation”.
Sources within Right of Place membership have indicated that it seems as though the HSE is not interested in investigating how money was spent in the past, or having pertinent questions which members are asking answered.
It is understood negotiations which had been ongoing with a HSE mediator between Mr Barry and a new committee have ceased.
In a draft agreement seen by the Irish Examiner, the HSE is proposing to continue with the existing company and, according to the document, “legal disputes will be deemed settled on the signing of the agreement”.
Monday, June 21, 2010
A CHARITY for survivors of institutional abuse continues to get government funding despite senior HSE management being shown evidence more than a year ago that there was “concern” over how the money was being used.
In a letter to senior managers in the HSE, Oliver Burke, acting administrator of Right of Place, a charity for survivors of institutional abuse, wrote “we all agreed the evidence gave cause for concern”, and that “sample evidence” proved all was not being done in a “correct and democratic matter”.
The letter, dated August 31, 2009, refers to a meeting held the previous March between Mr Burke and HSE managers, where he first raised concerns about how the charity was being run.
Right of Place has been under scrutiny after the HSE ordered that founder Noel Barry answer questions in relation to how it was spending its money.
However, questions remain unanswered and no independent investigation has taken place.
One of the country’s largest survivor groups, it has received millions of euro in Government funding since 2002 and continues to receive money.
Mr Burke, who has fought for more than a year to have Mr Barry removed and to have an audit of accounts carried out, said he felt the HSE was now trying to cover up its own ineptitude in dealing with the matter.
“I trusted the HSE to investigate, but now that this is not happening I want it all out in the open.”
Having received no adequate response to his August letter, Mr Burke followed it up with another in December.
In that letter, addressed to senior manager Gerry Kelly, Mr Burke requested that funding to Right of Place be stopped pending an investigation into all accounts and matters of a financial nature.
“I know you have tried your best to meet with Mr Barry but he still fails to answer any of your questions or will not provide proper documentation, unfortunately this is not satisfactory to any of us concerned in this matter,” the letter states.
“Your department supplies a budget to Right of Place for very clear and specific reasons as laid out in the budget agreement, this has not been done correctly now for quite some time, and members who need genuine assistance are not getting it.”
Mr Burke has now written to the Minster for Health Mary Harney requesting intervention.
In his letter to the minister, this month, Mr Burke outlines the problems within the charity, including incidents of intimidation within the charity, some which have been brought to the attention of Gardaí and asks for a “full and independent investigation”.
In the letter he claims state funds and religious donations were “seriously misused and are unaccounted for”.
Monday, February 07, 2011
A CONTROVERSIAL government-funded charity for survivors of institutional abuse is set to open offices in Galway, Waterford, Limerick and Cork, according to a newsletter published by its new board of directors.
Right of Place in Cork will continue to be funded despite claims that government money — and money donated by religious orders and bishops — was not filtering down to members.
Concerns have been raised continuously over the past 12 months by members, other survivor groups and opposition politicians.
Right of Place has been funded to the tune of at least €2.4 million by the HSE since 2002, with a further €1m coming from the Department of Education.
A large portion of this money was spent on wages and expenses. At one stage the charity had 18 staff, including cooks and security personnel.
However, there is no known record of how hundreds of thousands of euro donated by dioceses and religious orders, such as the Rosminians, was spent and the amounts were never recorded in audited accounts.
Late last year a new treasurer, Tom Brennan, said he could find no “record or evidence” of how anyone except a select inner circle benefited from the charity over a 10-year period.
Shortly after his appointment to the new board of directors, Mr Brennan resigned as he said he could not get answers to the questions he was asking.
However, in a recent newsletter to its members, Right of Place says Mr Brennan stepped down for “personal reasons”.
“I would like to make it very clear I did not step down for personal reasons,” he told the Irish Examiner. “This is more of the bluff and bluster from the new board and I want to put the record straight.”
The newsletter also attacks the Irish Examiner for “pursuing agendas” which it says have caused pain and hardship to survivors.
Ironically, the newsletter offers VEC computer courses, despite the fact that the Right of Place website was discontinued in recent months.
Meanwhile, the Irish Examiner has been contacted by several people who say they never signed up to be members of Right of Place but somehow ended up on the organisation’s database.
A Magdalene survivor in her 70s, living in the US, requested to be taken off the database in 2009 but got no reply and still receives correspondence.
The woman says she never signed up to be a member of Right of Place and the only person she gave her details to was a solicitor travelling in the US with the charity’s founder Noel Barry.
The woman said her concern was that someone had given her private and confidential information to the organisation without her permission.
Right of Place claims to have 1,500 members and has been funded accordingly.
Former treasurer Mr Brennan said he asked to see a database of survivors on several occasions but said he was never given access to it.
Thursday, October 06, 2011
A STATE-FUNDED group for survivors of institutional abuse spent over €80,000 on travel and subsistence, and over €30,000 on office administration over two years.
Annual accounts filed yesterday by the Cork-based organisation Right of Place show that in 2009 and 2010, the group had expenses of €478,534 and €423,850 respectively. During 2010, the accounts show that almost €14,000 was spent on office administration, and almost €9,000 on printing, postage and stationary.
Over €7,000 was spent on legal fees. A note to the accounts shows that during 2010 a case taken against Right of Place by a former employee meant the group was ordered to pay a settlement of €6,700, as well as legal fees amounting to almost €4,000.
During 2010, Right of Place received €321,860 in grants and a one-off payment of €45,153 for redundancies and legal fees.
However, its budget has been slashed in the past year after it emerged that duplicate funding had been taking place over many years.
In the past, Right of Place was funded through grants from both the HSE and the Department of Education. Now its only source of state funding is the HSE, from which it receives about €183,000. It had sought a further €90,000 from the Department of Education.
Internal documents obtained by the Irish Examiner show that the department wrote to the HSE this year to check what money it had given to the group in order that both would not fund it for the same thing.
The department official wrote that Right of Place, which it has funded since 2001, sought funding for areas of expenditure the department had never previously funded. These included staff salaries, office rent, training and research.
Survivors had raised concern about the amount of money which groups purporting to represent them get. An estimated €34 million has been provided to groups supporting victims of institutional abuse between 2001 and 2009.
Right of Place has received €2.4m from the HSE since 2002, with a further €1m coming from the Department of Education.
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