The Shame of Ireland
1.1 On 15th April, 2010, the Government announced its intention to utilise €110m of the Congregations’ offers of contributions to establish a Statutory Fund to support the needs of survivors of residential institutional child abuse and for other education and welfare purposes. This proposal is in keeping with the all party Motion passed by Dáil Éireann in May 2009 supporting the proposal for a Trust to be set up and managed by the State for the support of victims and for other education and welfare purposes. The Government advised that it would be consulting with the former residents as to the exact nature of the Fund, how it will operate and the uses to which it will be put.
1.2 The consultation process involved meetings with the eighteen religious congregations that were party to the 2002 Indemnity Agreement, with groups representing survivors of residential institutional child abuse, with a number of other interested parties, together with newspaper advertisements placed in local and national newspapers in late July 2010, inviting views on the specific needs facing survivors and how the Fund could operate to assist in meeting these needs. The advertisement was also placed in newspapers aimed at the Irish community in the United Kingdom. Views could be forward by post or email or by a Freefone Service (operated by Barnardos on behalf of the Department). A four week period, until the end of August, was given for the public consultation process. The advertisement, a copy of which is attached at Appendix 1, advised that the Statutory Fund was being proposed to support the continuing education, health and welfare needs faced by survivors and would not provide cash compensation for survivors. It would be separate and distinct from the compensation scheme operated by the independent Residential Institutions Redress Board, which provides fair and reasonable awards to victims of institutional childhood abuse.
Responses Received to Public Consultation
2.1 The public consultation process elicited 258 individual responses, received as follows:
A list of organisations that made submissions is set out in Appendix 2.
2.2 In order to assist in contributing to the public consultation process UK based Irish Outreach Centres and survivor support services acting on their own initiative issued a standard questionnaire to clients to try to gauge views in relation to the Statutory Fund and the particular needs of the clients. It is understood that a total of 309 completed questionnaires were received by the Centres/services who then collated the responses and forwarded the relevant statistical information. One Irish centre in the UK conducted a meeting with members of its client base to discuss the overall issue. The information collected via this element of the consultation process is summarised at Paragraph 9.
Views of Religious Congregations
3.1 Congregations generally welcomed the proposal to establish the Statutory Fund to respond to the needs of survivors. Many congregations highlighted the need for their contributions to the Fund to be compliant with charity law requirements. The proposal was discussed with the congregations at meetings during May 2010 and they were invited to forward any views that they had in relation to the proposal. Specific comments/views were provided by the Oblates, the Christian Brothers, the Sisters of St Louis; the Sisters of Mercy, the Sisters of St Clare, the Presentation Brothers and the Presentation Sisters. The views offered in relation to the scope of the Fund included:
As regards the administration of the Fund, comments included the following:
3.2 One congregation suggested that the Fund should seek out the most marginalised, who are least well placed to access compensation schemes and that the optimum use of the Fund would be to provide support for those who have not benefited to date from the redress scheme or legal action. It recommended that the Fund advertise an offer of a common experience payment of €1,000 to be made immediately upon confirmation of a period of at least one year in any listed institution. It felt that such an approach might identify the most marginalised and they advocated a one year time limit for this approach. The congregation also advocated the payment of sums on a per capita basis to groups representing former residents to assist in storytelling and the healing process and to acknowledge the experience of survivors. It also advocated endowment for a period of 7 years of particular groups such as School for the Deaf in Cabra and other institutional groups in which abuse of physically or mentally disabled persons may have occurred. A special category should be groups of Irish emigrants to the UK. It also advocated endowment for facilities or processes which assisted in acknowledgement of the experience of survivors and the provision of a safe and culturally appropriate environment in which healing and rehabilitation could be provided for survivors and their families.
Views of Survivor Groups
4.1 There was a diversity of views among the survivor groups, present at the meeting with the Taoiseach and Ministers on 15th April, 2010 in relation to the proposed Statutory Fund, with some Groups arguing forcefully against the Fund in favour of the money being distributed directly to survivors. Some argued that the survivors had not received ‘proper’ redress awards, noting that few had received awards from the Redress Board that were equivalent to High Court awards. It was suggested that a ballot among all survivors be held on how to deal with the offer while the possibility of paying pensions to survivors was also raised. The alternative view expressed welcomed the proposed Fund and highlighted the need for ongoing counselling and education services. The need to address the position of survivors in the UK was noted and queries were raised regarding eligibility, administration and what needs should be addressed.
4.2 The Department met with survivor groups and other interested parties and individuals during June 2010. Those met included representatives from the Aislinn Centre; Right of Place, Cork; Justice and Healing for Institutional Abuse; Right to Peace; Alliance Victim Support Group; True Survivors of Institutional Abuse; Irish Survivors of Institutional Abuse; Irish SOCA; the Federation of Irish Societies and the Irish Women Survivors Support Network in the UK. Other individuals met included Mr Christopher Heaphy, Mr John Barrett, Mr Paddy Doyle and Ms Bernadette Fahy. Written views were also forwarded by SOCA UK, the Aislinn Centre; Coventry Irish Society, the Federation of Irish Societies, the Irish Women Survivors Support Network, the Munster Survivors Support Services, the Midlands Irish Survivors Service Coventry and Mr Paddy Doyle.
4.3 Several Groups re-iterated their strong objection to the proposed Statutory Fund, with some advocating a ballot of all survivors while others felt that the available money should be disbursed directly to survivors who deserved proper compensation and/or who should not have to go “to a board and beg for what is theirs by right”. The possibility of paying pensions to survivors was also re-iterated and the need to agree an approach to the Fund with survivor groups was also referred to. While some Groups felt that the Fund should concentrate on addressing the needs of former residents, at least in the initial phase, others felt that relatives should also be eligible. It was noted that the fund should not be used to substitute for existing exchequer funded entitlements.
4.4 Suggestions for the type of services which the Fund should provide included:
Some also advocated addressing the position of former residents of the Magdalen Laundries and late applications to the Residential Institutional Redress Board. The need for a bridging service to assist former residents access existing services was highlighted. The necessity of addressing the needs of survivors living outside Ireland was also raised.
4.5 In relation to the administrative arrangements, some considered that the Education Finance Board worked well in terms of the involvement of survivors, while others felt it to be most un-user friendly and difficult to access. The need for simplicity and ease of access was highlighted together with the need to use the details previously provided to the Redress Board when determining eligibility and thereby avoid duplication. It was also argued that there should be support systems available to ensure survivors’ access to existing services. Queries as to who would be eligible, whether assistance would be means-tested, whether account would be taken of redress awards, were also raised. It was suggested that the Board of the Fund should include an experienced counsellor and/or psychiatrist, experts in treatment for addiction/ child abusers and possibly a representative from Barnardos (who provide the family tracing service) along with a legal expert and survivors with professional skills. The need for the Fund to operate independently, while being accountable, was also raised.
4.6 The question of funding of groups was raised at several meetings with distrust being expressed in relation to the existing arrangements and some groups advocating that the existing arrangements should cease.
Responses from individuals as part of the public consultation process
5.1 A total of 238 responses were received from individuals as part of the public consultation process. 131 people called the freefone service, while 4 people called the Department directly. 45 written responses were received together with 58 email responses.
5.2 There was a broad gender balance among the respondents, with males accounting for 52% of responses and females accounting for 48% of responses. Where known, 55% of respondents lived in Ireland and 45% lived elsewhere. At least 78% of respondents were former residents.
5.3 The individual responses addressed a wide range of relevant issues. In broad terms the key points that emerged in these responses can be summarised as follows:
5.4 Many respondents set out their objection to the principle of the establishment of the Fund. A common theme was that the money committed by congregations belonged to survivors and should therefore come directly to them rather than being held by the Government or placed in a Fund. In many cases this view was linked to a demand for a ballot among survivors as to how the money received from the congregations should be used and the further call that the money be divided between survivors. Some respondents suggested that the money be divided among survivors in proportion to awards received, while others advocated paying equal amounts to all and others suggested dividing the money by reference to the number of years spent in institutions.
5.5 Many respondents expressed the view that there had been insufficient consultation with survivors regarding the proposal to establish the Statutory Fund and that this continued a long-running pattern of having decisions affecting survivors made on their behalf by others.
5.6 Disenchantment with groups representing survivors featured in many responses. Issues of concern included the lack of a mandate for groups, the lack of a useful role for groups, concerns that there was no accountability in relation to groups, and concerns regarding the usage of funding by groups including the possibility of double-funding. A number of respondents expressed the view that groups should have no role in relation to the operation or governance of the proposed Fund while others said that groups should be disbanded. However, some respondents did indicate their view that survivors and representative groups should have a role in the proposed Fund.
5.7 Respondents expressed concern regarding the operations of the Education Finance Board and the Residential Institutions Redress Board. In relation to the Education Finance Board the issues that were raised included the €15,000 cap on funding, the level of paperwork associated with applications to the Board, the length of time taken to approve applications and in some cases the view that the Board was not sympathetic to survivors. In the case of the Redress Board a number of respondents felt that the process was not fair and reasonable while others stated that the level of award granted to them was low and that they felt pressurised by the Board (and by the respondent’s legal advisors) to accept awards. The phrase “Hobson’s Choice” was used in relation to the pressure to accept awards. Some submissions noted that groups such as survivors of Magdalen Laundries could not apply to the Redress Board and suggested that that issue should be addressed while others asked that the cut-off date for the receipt of applications should be removed. The issue of the legality of the Redress process was raised in some submissions.
Survivor needs as identified by individuals in the public consultation process
6.1 The individual respondents identified a wide range of needs that might be met by the proposed Fund. These range from needs that were specific to the respondent (including addressing particular personal circumstances, health needs, etc) to general needs that would apply across the board to survivors or to a significant proportion of survivors. While there were considerable degrees of commonality among the needs identified by respondents it is not necessarily the case that all respondents believed that all survivors shared the same needs. Not all respondents who were survivors felt that they themselves had needs. The needs of survivors covered a wide spectrum and were influenced by factors such as age, life experiences and economic and personal circumstances.
6.2 Responses were received arguing that a particular need existed while other respondents argued that the same need was not in fact relevant to survivors. Examples included education where many respondents identified it as a need but others said that it was not a need particularly as they themselves were too old to avail of educational opportunities and so dismissed the need across the board. Many respondents indicated that they had health needs that should be met while others argued that as survivors had statutory entitlements to health services (in common with all citizens or through medical cards or their equivalents in other countries) there was no need for the Fund to become involved in that area.
6.3 A number of respondents pointed out that survivors are fully entitled to avail of many existing public services at no cost to them and that therefore the Fund should not be used to subvent any services to which survivors already have an entitlement.
7.1 As noted above respondents identified a wide range of needs that should be met from the Fund including:
Health, Dental and Counselling needs
7.2 Key points:
7.3 A number of respondents suggested that the Fund be used to pay a pension to survivors, in recognition of the fact that their time in residential institutions affected their ability to gain meaningful employment and that as a consequence their current or future pension entitlements are the minimum available. Some suggested that such a pension be available on reaching the age of 60 while others felt that pensions should be “topped-up” from age 65 onwards. Some respondents suggested that the receipt of a “pension” from the Fund should not affect other entitlements or be subject to taxation.
7.4 A significant number of responses referred to the issue of education. Many respondents noted that they themselves and survivors generally were too old to benefit from education at this stage in their lives and that therefore the Fund should not have a role in relation to education, while others felt that it could benefit their relations. Other responses argued that education supports were available and that, in any event, education should be fully funded by Government. Other respondents argued that education supports should be provided from the Fund and a number of submissions detailed the specific requirements of the respondent or a family member. The type of supports sought included back to education grants, assistance with private tuition, assistance with the purchase of laptops for educational purposes, assistance with the purchase of academic aids, funding for computer courses, adult literacy support, help with payment for schoolbooks, uniforms and school transport and travel expenses when availing of educational opportunities. As noted previously, some respondents raised concerns regarding the operations of the Education Finance Board. Comments related to issues such as the €15,000 limit for an individual, the complex application process (in the opinion of the respondent), their treatment by the Board itself. Responses also queried the need to maintain both the Education Finance Board and the proposed Fund.
Some respondents noted that if survivors themselves could not benefit from educational support then their children should be able to benefit. Some respondents suggested that educational Trusts might be established in the name of individual survivors in order to provide educational grants to children and grandchildren.
7.5 A number of respondents indicated that they had housing needs. These needs included:
Suggestions made for action in the area of housing included:
Repatriation and holiday visits
7.6 Some responses suggested that survivors now living in the UK had a desire to return to Ireland but had no home to return to. A related issue was the desire expressed by some respondents to have an opportunity to participate in a holiday visit to Ireland and the wish to avail of free travel and accommodation when doing so. Some responses expressed the view that accommodation should once again be provided in Dublin for short-term visitors to Ireland.
7.7 The fear of not having funds to allow for a proper burial was raised in a number of responses, this included not having funds to purchase a grave or arrange for a headstone.
7.8 The importance of being able to trace one’s family was noted by a number of respondents. One response emphasised the importance of this issue for those of mixed race heritage.
7.9 These included:
A number of submissions set out personal histories including details of abuse suffered and identified some particular needs that they or a family member had. Examples of the needs set out included, the cost of medical insurance where it is not possible to purchase same due to underlying conditions relating to time spent in an institution, the need for treatment for particular medical or dental conditions, the cost of purchasing a new car adapted for a disabled survivor, etc.
7.10 Few respondents commented directly on this issue. However relevant comments included a strong trend opposing the involvement of survivor groups in the governance of the Fund, though some responses argued the opposite. A number of responses noted the need to have persons with appropriate administrative experience in charge of the Fund rather than survivor representatives. Others stated that the Fund should be run by an independent Board. It was suggested by one respondent that Barnardos be asked to run the Fund. The need for the Fund to operate in an accountable manner and to have its books audited, etc was raised in a number of submissions.
7.11 Divergent views emerged in relation to the question of eligibility for support from the Fund. In essence two broad views emerged, one that access be confined to survivors (generally persons who had received an award from the Redress Board), with the other advocating a wider level of eligibility to include spouses, children, grandchildren, etc of survivors. However, submissions also argued that former residents of institutions not currently covered under the Redress Scheme, such as those who resided in Magdalen laundries, should be entitled to benefit from the Fund.
Application process, etc
7.12 A number of submissions noted that there was a fear that a complex application process might be put in place and the respondents hoped that that would not be the case. It was suggested also that a simple application process be used with minimal requirements to produce original documentation in order to establish eligibility. The point was made in a number of submissions that the Redress Board and the Education Finance Board already required applicants to submit documentation and that therefore by using the records of these organisations there should be no need to require applicants to the Fund to provide original documentation in order to prove eligibility. Related issues included the need to ensure that survivors living outside of Ireland should benefit from the Fund and that those survivors should be made aware of the Fund.
Responses from organisations and groups
8.1 A total of 20 responses were received from organisations and groups as part of the public consultation process. Most respondents were involved directly with survivors either in a representative capacity or as a provider of services or supports to survivors. The views of survivor groups (including UK support services) have been included in section 4. Two submissions referred to the desire of survivors to have the money divided among them with survivors then addressing their own needs while another submission advocated supporting those who either failed to apply to the Redress Board or whose application was rejected.
8.2 A number of submissions from organisations associated with the deaf community sought funding for various projects for the benefit of survivors. Funding was sought towards a centre which would act as a heritage and adult education centre for the deaf community and would offer counselling, interpreting etc. to address the needs of the deaf community. Another proposal was to fund a website to provide a range of relevant services for the deaf community and thereby help alleviate isolation. Another advocated funding for a research project within the deaf community to consider effects of abuse on deaf people and for the production of an English/Irish Sign Language Dictionary.
8.3 Among the specific points made in the other submissions were:
8.4 In terms of the needs the Fund could address, the following were proposed
8.5 In relation to administration of the Fund, the need to keep administration costs to a minimum was noted.
Submissions from the United Kingdom
9.1 90 individual respondents (post, e-mail or telephone) indicated that they were resident in the UK. These responses have been analysed with all other individual responses and the results are set out at Paragraphs 5-7 above. In addition to those responses received directly from individuals and organisations based in the UK and as noted at Para 2.2 above, UK based Irish Outreach Centres and survivor support services issued a standard questionnaire to clients to try to gauge views in relation to the Statutory Fund and the particular needs of the clients. This process resulted in the receipt of 309 completed questionnaires by the Centres/services who then collated the responses and forwarded the statistical information for inclusion in the consultation process.
9.2 It should be noted that while the use of a questionnaire may have been intended to facilitate consideration of the key issues by those who completed it, it may also have served to limit consideration of options. Furthermore the questionnaire raised issues that are not directly relevant to the Government’s proposals in regard to the establishment of the Statutory Fund. Notwithstanding these reservations, the information provided through the UK questionnaires is important in the context of the establishment of the Fund.
9.3 The UK questionnaires posed a number of questions to clients. Broadly speaking these questions fell into three categories; governance issues, eligibility and the identification of needs that could be met from the Fund. Respondents were not specifically asked if they were in favour of the establishment of the Fund, however a number indicated in their comments they did not support the Fund and wished to receive a direct payment instead.
9.4 Eligibility: A clear preference was expressed across each of the component elements that the Fund should be used for the benefit of survivors. There was however a minority view that other family members should also benefit from the Fund.
9.5 Governance, etc: A clear view emerged that the Fund should be professionally run by a combination of persons with relevant expertise and some survivors (but not necessarily representatives of survivor groups). Easy access with minimal “red tape” was a common theme.
9.6 Needs. The questionnaire posed a series of questions and offered specific options. The responses indicated an interest in accessing the Fund to obtain a number of different supports including counselling, education, welfare, annual holiday, pensions, individual trusts for disabled survivors and carer support. There was a limited level of interest in receiving support to return to Ireland to live. More specific questions were posed in relation to some of the needs.
9.7 Other issues. The questionnaires raised other issues that are relevant to an extent. A strong view was expressed in favour of “Laundry Women Workers” being able to benefit from the Fund. Respondents were also asked if the Fund should continue to fund outreach services for survivors in the UK and there was significant support for this option.
9.8 A further submission from a UK Outreach Centre made the case that the Fund should be used to pay compensation to those survivors who either failed to submit a late application to the Redress Board or whose application was rejected.
9.9 In addition to the responses summarised above from outreach centres and support groups in the UK a submission was received from a provider of counselling services to survivors in the UK. This submission noted the importance of the continued provision of counselling services to survivors living in the UK (see Para 8.4 above).
Submissions received from organisations, groups and individuals prior to the commencement of the public consultation process
10.1 In the immediate aftermath of the publication of the Ryan report in May 2009 and occasionally thereafter, submissions were received from individuals, groups and organisations that referred to varying extents to the needs of survivors of residential abuse. Therefore, it is considered that a number of those submissions are relevant to the current consultation process. A total of 15 submissions fall into this category.
10.2 The submissions in this category included material submitted on behalf of groups working with and on behalf of survivors of abuse in Ireland and the UK, advocacy groups with a particular interest in children’s rights and other interested parties and persons.
10.3 The submissions from survivor groups and similar organisations were received either at or subsequent to meetings with the Government and generally responded positively to the Government’s statement issued in the aftermath of the publication of the Ryan Report. In particular, the submissions/statements welcome the establishment of a proposed “Trust” with money to be received from religious congregations. A range of issues affecting survivors are detailed, these include: welfare issues, family tracing (referred to as a “top priority” in one submission), continued support for the Education Finance Board, continuation of counselling services and special support for survivors with a range of different needs. Submissions also argued for the review of awards by the Redress Board and the extension of the scope of the Redress Board to include institutions not currently under its remit and the acceptance of late applications by the Board, the expunging of criminal records, the bringing to justice of perpetrators, support for a Memorial, the taking of certain actions against religious congregations, etc.
10.4 Submissions from organisations other than those representing survivors included proposals to develop facilities that could provide services to survivors (and seeking financial support for such projects).
Proposed Statutory Fund to support the needs of Survivors of Residential Institutional Child Abuse.
The Government has announced its proposal to use €110m of the offers of
contributions from religious Congregations to establish and operate a Statutory Fund
to support the needs of survivors of residential institutional child abuse and for other
education and welfare purposes.
The Statutory Fund is being proposed to support the continuing education, health
and welfare needs faced by survivors. The Fund will not provide cash compensation
for survivors and will be separate and distinct from the compensation scheme operated
by the independent Residential Institutions Redress Board, which provides fair and
reasonable awards to victims of institutional childhood abuse.
As part of the consultation process, the Department of Education and Skills is meeting
with groups representing survivors of institutional child abuse and the religious
Congregations. However, many survivors are not affiliated to groups and may wish to
contribute independently to the process. As the Department wishes to consult as
widely as possible it invites the views of all interested parties.
Submissions should identify, as far as possible, the specific needs facing survivors
and suggest how the Fund should operate to assist in meeting these needs.
Written submissions can be emailed to StatutoryFund@education.gov.ie or posted
Statutory Fund Consultation,
Department of Education and Skills,
A Freefone Service is available to receive comments from Monday to Friday
between 10am and 1pm by phoning 1800 938 140 (Republic of Ireland) or 0800
0148912 (NI & UK) (this service is being operated by Barnardos on behalf of the
Department of Education and Skills).
The closing date for the receipt of submissions is Friday 27th August, 2010.
Please note that all comments, observations and submissions will be subject to the
Freedom of Information Acts 1997-2003. Consequently when submitting material,
a person should identify any information which they do not wish to have released
together with an accompanying explanation.
Groups and organisations from which submissions were received
(i) As part of the August 2010 public consultation process
Mr Gary Fereday, Chief Executive, Immigrant Counselling and Psychotherapy (ICAP), 96 Moray Road, Finsbury Park, London N4 3LA.
Mr Mick Waters, SOCA UK
Millstone House, Room 7, Westside Resource Centre, Galway.
St. Stephen's Green Trust, PO Box 950, Newbridge, Co Kildare.
Liam O'Dwyer, CEO, Catholic Institute for Deaf People, 40 Lower Drumcondra, D9.
Michael Lyons, General Manager, Faoiseamh, St Joseph's Lodge, Mount Saint Marys, Dundrum Road, D14.
Christine Buckley & Carmel McDonnell-Byrne, Aislinn Education & Support Centre, Jervis Street, D1.
Centre for Sign Language Studies (CSL), Tuam Road Retail Centre, Tuam Road, Galway.
Maeve Lewis, Executive Director, One in Four
Jim Sheehan, The Social and Health Education Project, The Village Centre, Ballincollig, Co Cork.
Geoffrey Corry, Chairman, Facing Forward, 95 Stillorgan Wood, Stillorgan, Co. Dublin.
Cora Pollard, Manager, Sign Language Interpreting Service, Hainault House, The Square, Tallaght, D24.
John Mangan, CEO, Irish Deaf Society, 30 Blessington Street, D7.
Kevin Stanley, CEO, Inclusive Enterprises, 124 Abbey Drive, Riverston Abbey, Navan Road, D7.
Simon McCarthy, Outreach Worker, Coventry Irish Society, 42-44 Hill Street, Coventry, CV1 4AN.
Monica O’Reilly, Blessed Edmund Rice Conference, Society of St. Vincent de Paul.
Jennie McShannon, Chief Executive, Federation of Irish Societies, 95 White Lion Street, London N1 9PF.
Cllr. Sally Mulready, Irish Women Survivors Support Network (UK)
Mr Oliver Burke, Munster Survivors Support Services, Ballycurreen Road, Frankfield, Cork.
(ii) In the period May 2009 to July 2010
Eileen McMahon, McMahon & Co., First Floor, 12 George Street, Gort, Co. Galway.
Tom Hayes, Alliance victim support 30 Castle Gardens, Richhill, Co. Armagh BT61 9QL
Mr Michael Watters, Chairperson, SOCA UK
Cllr Sally Mulready Irish Women Survivors Support Group
Eileen O’Malley-Dunlop, Dublin Rape Crisis Centre (Press release issued on behalf of : Dublin Rape Crisis
Centre, Barnardos, Children at Risk Ireland, Children’s Rights Alliance, Irish Society for the Prevention of
Cruelty to Children, One in Four.)
Dermot McMahon, Ballinamona, Gorey, Co Wexford.
Br. Kevin Mullan, Province Leader, Christian Brothers Province Centre, Griffith Avenue, Marino, D9.
Jillian Van Turnhout, Chief Executive, Children’s Rights Alliance, 4 Upper Mount Street, D2.
Greater London and South East Irish Survivors Support Group
Noel Barry, Right of Place, 100-101 Lower Glanmire Road, Cork.
John Kelly, Irish SOCA
Stuart Lawler, Centre Manager, NCBI.
 The above figures exclude duplicate written responses and responses not considered to be directly relevant to the process. A number of callers to the Freefone service also submitted written comments.
 These comprise 131 calls to the Freefone Service and 4 calls to the Department.
 Includes some submissions from survivor groups.
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