The Shame of Ireland

The Shame of Ireland

‘Mistreatment of survivors’ of institutional abuse a ‘greater national shame’

‘Caranua failed. As a former board member I can state this with the utmost truth and confidence’

Thu, Jun 21, 2018, 19:22

Kitty Holland 


Caranua was established in 2012 to manage €110m pledged by religious congregations to enhance survivors’ lives. File photograph: Christian Hartmann/Reuters 

The treatment of survivors of institutional abuse was a “greater national shame” than the abuse they suffered as children, an Oireachtas committee has heard.

Tom Cronin, a survivor of St Joseph’s industrial school Cork, is a former board member of Caranua from which he resigned in February citing “mistreatment of survivors”. He called for the organisation to be closed.

Caranua, established in 2012 as an independent body to manage €110 million pledged by congregations to enhance survivors’ lives, has been at the centre of controversy since March of last year when its then chief executive, Mary Higgins, offended many survivors.

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.

Mr Cronin was addressing the Oireachtas education committee along with another former Caranua board member Dr Mary Lodato, a survivor of High Park laundry in Drumcondra.

They said they had expected Caranu’s approach to change “after all the bad press”. They resigned nine months after saying it had not.

“Caranua was meant to help some of the most vulnerable in our society,” said Mr Cronin on Thursday.

“Caranua failed. As a former board member I can state this with the utmost truth and confidence.

“What happened to us as children was a shame on the nation. What has been done to us since is a greater shame.”

Among the complaints about Caranua have been its refusal to meet survivors in person, a cap of €15,000 on the goods and services survivors could apply for, the closing of applicants’ files without warning and a widespread belief the organisation neither valued nor respected the survivors.

“You can’t deal with atrocities [against children] of this magnitude in the manner in which it has been,” Mr Cronin said on Thursday.

The two former board members were invited to the committee to discuss what the Department of Education should do following the winding down of Caranua from August.

Dr Lodato, now based in Northamptonshire, suggested a “forum or space where survivors could express their views... throughout the UK”. Many UK-based survivors did not know Caranua existed. It will not advertise.

At “round-tables” with UK-based survivors she asked them what they needed.

“They just wanted have a better quality of life and to be respected, and to tell their story... they said they wanted to be able to retire to Ireland to make peace with this land and the atrocities that had happened to them.”

She suggested they be entitled to the free travel-pass in Ireland, and to “somewhere to stay” while they visit, saying many had no family here as families had been “broken”.

The Department of Education should not be leading any consultation on what to do next, Mr Cronin said.

“The Department’s involvement in this has been a total failure in the past. To put it back into the Department is a huge mistake, a futile exercise, a waste of energy and money. That’s not a reflection on the people in the departments. They don’t know how to handle this, how to go about it, they don’t have the empathy or knowledge, experience, zero.”

They agreed a survey on the Department’s website of survivors’s wishes was “pointless” when many survivors were elderly and some illiterate. “It’s demeaning,” Dr Lodato said. “We need face-face contacts.”

Views: 127

Comment by james penrose on June 26, 2018 at 18:29

Still having to use a P O Box from day one to forward mail, just screams mistrust and defensiveness, Rumour has it Caranua means friend, I am trying to find a friend of mine who uses a box number, all to no avail.Perhaps i am missing out on something. 

Comment by john mc carthy on June 26, 2018 at 22:19

why would mary higgins want to help any of the survivors, all she is interested in is her 80 thousand plus euro per year and restrict survivors to 15.000 only..we were just scroungers as far as she was concerned, her remarks prove that.    

Comment by Barbie on June 27, 2018 at 11:08

We all must remember that were dealing with the state that's hand in hand with the religious orders in this Country. These people are there to protect the money of the religious, and the religious are saying who are these nobodies taking our money as all that money paid out will be recouped by them some way some how they'll get it back. They are probably saying to themselves who do they think we are, but I would say to them we are the one who survived and we will tell our stories and be heard, and we won't give up ever as my kids will carry my story on.

Comment by david gleeson on June 28, 2018 at 23:16

i got that new 15k payper on old agreement they  want me to sign up to new 15k cap. im thinking f**k tòo much bother to  try get help off them.. st joseph's industrial school was wer i was too. 

Comment by Barbie on June 29, 2018 at 19:00

Hi David, I sent in my application for everything I needed off them, but I wouldn't sign the new €15,000 limit agreement. I keep getting refused but I keep sending it in and everytime I put on the application that I will not sign or recognise the limit of €15,000. They have some nerve telling us grown adults how we should apply for funding and what we can buy for the money that is rightfully ours. 

Comment by seanie morrison on July 9, 2018 at 5:04

I'm 83, ruptured spine. I need help, but am told I cannot get any now, I want to return to Ireland to die, but am I wasting Caranua's time ?. Seanie Morrison.

Comment by Barbie on July 10, 2018 at 19:47

Hi Seanie, although some people have had a negative experience dealing with Caranua, you should always give it a try and let them be the one's to tell you yes or no. As the old saying goes if your not in you can't win!  

Comment by seanie morrison on July 10, 2018 at 22:23

Blue in the face Barbie, Miss Higgins wants to keep her job and generous paycheck. I am living on my own quite a way from the town of Prince George BC. Canada. I have to do all the chores even with a ruptured spine and shoulder, I take painkillers every day so I may do those jobs, I have lost 50 lbs in weight since my wife of 65 years passed away a couple of years ago, so I want to go back to Limerick to see out my years. Caranua is deaf to my pleas for help. I have not stepped into a Church since Glin, I pray in the shower every morning, that's my church. We are all being abused again by Miss Higgins who wants to be a nun.

Add a Comment

You need to be a member of The Shame of Ireland to add comments!

Join The Shame of Ireland


Rob Northall created this Ning Network.


This is a Private Site

Membership is drawn from Survivors of the Irish Industrial School System their Family and Friends. Survivors of the Magdalene Laundries their Families and Friends are welcome too!

Others can follow on Twitter by Clicking the Button Bellow

Follow ShameOfIreland on Twitter

 Follow on FACE BOOK by Clicking <HERE>

Please Like this FACE BOOK Page?


  • Add Photos
  • View All



© 2021   Created by Rob Northall.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service