The Shame of Ireland

The Shame of Ireland

Two members of Caranua resign alleging ‘mistreatment’ of survivors

Agency providing services to survivors of religious institutional abuse should be closed

Following the resignation of two of its board members, a spokeswoman for Caranua said appointments to its board were a matter for the Minister for Education.

Two new members of Caranua, the independent statutory agency tasked with providing services to survivors of religious institutional abuse, have resigned citing its “mistreatment” of survivors.

Thomas Cronin and Dr Mary Lodato, both survivors of institutional abuse, were appointed to the nine-member Caranua board in May 2017, by Minister for Education Richard Bruton.

They now say Caranua “should be closed down”. The organisation, established in 2012 to manage €110 million pledged by congregations to enhance survivors’ lives, has been at the centre of controversy since March 2017 when chief executive, Mary Higgins, made comments offensive to many survivors.

Responding to complaints about the service Caranua provided, Ms Higgins told The Irish Times some survivors would “never be happy”. “You can’t control people’s experience of what we do for them...We have to face the fact, the damage that has been done to these people is so deep that it doesn’t matter what anybody does.

It’s never going to be enough to satisfy them and make them feel cared for, loved, honoured or whatever else.” She later “unreservedly” withdrew the comments.

Ms Lodato, a survivor of High Park Magdalene laundry in Drumcondra, Dublin and now based in Northamptonshire, has worked with survivors in the UK for over 20 years.

In her resignation letter to the Minister, dated February 1st, she said she had believed her expertise on the needs of UK-based survivors would “help” to board gain an “understanding” of their specific needs. Her belief was however “at odds with the expectations of the board”.

Responsibility not to survivors When she brought the situation of a terminally-ill survivor who had been unable to get a response from Caranua to the board’s attention, she was told her responsibility was to Caranua, not to survivors, she says. “This was a position I could not accept.”

Mr Cronin, a survivor of St Joseph’s industrial school, Cork, said he had expected there would be “changes in Caranua after all the bad press”. “I’d say if anything they have got worse, more entrenched and more defiant that they are going to keep doing things their way.”

In his resignation letter to the Minister, dated February 16th, he expressed his concern about the “lack of respect and empathy towards survivors... In my opinion Caranua should be closed down”.

He told The Irish Times: “What worries me is that they don’t want to hear survivors. They want to push us away and get rid of survivors. The survivors will die but that attitude – not wanting to face the abuse - is still inherent in our society.”

A spokeswoman for Caranua said: “Appointments to the Board of Caranua are a matter for the Minister for Education.”

A Department of Education spokeswoman said: “The Minister would like to thank both Tom Cronin and Mary Lodato for their service on the Board of Caranua.

The Board has the important job of securing the most beneficial, effective and efficient use of the resources available in the investment account while being fair to survivors, seeking to meet their needs and benefit as many people as possible.”

Caranua has so far spent €72.5 million of the fund, most of it on services for survivors.

A portion is spent on salaries, rent and other expenses.

As of December 31st, 2017 it had received 6,109 applications, of which 5,539 were deemed eligible.

Ms Higgins had been on “sick leave for a number of months due to an unfortunate accident”, according to Caranua.

Kitty Holland


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A lot of words come to mind, one wonders about the other members, are they toe the line types, stay on the board no matter what, they would have listened to the new members, yet they are still there, we can only hope it is now in free fall, and we will see them all in front of the public accounts committee. Thanks rob for keeping the ball in the air. i also read that caranua was taking the appeals officer to court, how crazy is that. 

Many of the other board member are their since its inception and are responsible for the way survivors have and are being treated.  They are the stooges of Ms Higgins and the religious, I have said it before they are detriment to make sure none of the like of us survivors get anything from that fund and the religious recoup the lot.  We as survivors are dealing with the very evil of society and they are very well protected, and they will be thinking who the hell do we think we are looking for anything from the head table.

Hi Shep,  I agree with you 100%.    The other Two survivors serving on the Caranua Board are Francis Treanor(male) and Frances Harrington.( Female ).

Treanor is a so called barrister and dosent give a shit about survivors.  I believe he gives free legal advice to the board on how  to protect the board, instead of speaking up for us.   He is also on the board of directors of "Right of Place" based in Waterford and we know what a shower of shit that group are.   They get quarter of a million euro each year to help survivors and all they do for that money is help themselves.     Shut them all down is what i say..........they are alll ROTTEN.

On the other hand,   on the several occasions I met with the Chairman of Caranua ( David O'Callaghan ) and Frances Harrington, on issues relating to survivors,  Harrington was so far up O'Callaghan arse I couldn't see her.    Both Harrington and Treanor are on the board,  NOT,  to represent survivors,  but to line their own pockets and careers.   Both of them are despicable.  They will never help survivors.

Tom Cronin resigned because he is a man of honour and couldn't stand the hypocracy that was happening on the board Twoards survivors .  Dr.  Mary T Lodato also resigned for the same reason. 

The Board of Caranua are using the survivors fund to take the appeals officer into the High Court,  to prevent Survivors accessing the fund ..........disgraceful.  

The Whole Board of Caranua should be made to resign and a new board appointed.    They are a disgrace.



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