Caranua redress body and institutional abuse survivors

 

Sir, – Further to “Institutional abuse survivors accuse State redress body of lacking compassion” (March 20th), the comments by Mary Higgins, chief executive of Caranua, that the “narrative” of many survivors of intuitional abuse is that they will “never be happy” is a distortion of the truth and an attempt to blame survivors for Caranua’s failings.

Indeed, Ms Higgins will be aware of the documented instances of concerns regarding the scheme operated by Caranua, and some of these were reported in the appeals officer’s annual report for 2015, with hundreds, and possibly thousands, of applicants affected.

Earlier this month, the Government announced a review of Caranua, but limited this to eligibility to the scheme and not the operation of the scheme itself.

The scheme, set up for survivors with money donated from the religious congregations, has met with widespread criticism this week. This follows comments made in the Dáil on March 8th in the debate on Clare Daly’s private member’s Bill to make changes to the scheme.

Will the Government now act and fulfil its statutory obligation to supervise the operation of the scheme, given the allegations of its mismanagement? Will it, as previously promised, review Caranua’s operation of the scheme?

This latest effort of redress will fail if survivors’ concerns are ignored. A survivor-centred and survivor-led approach to redress is being applied in Northern Ireland. Survivors here were not consulted at all in terms of the Caranua scheme, nor the redress scheme which came before it in 2002.

Proper redress can only begin to take place when Caranua and the Government begins to demonstrate a genuine commitment to an open and fair engagement with survivors

It is not too late, given the funds available, and the number of survivors still alive and awaiting the dignity of making choices in regard to the money which is theirs. – Yours, etc,

FIONNA FOX,

Dublin 7.

Sir, – The controversy that has arisen from Kitty Holland’s interview with the chief executive of Caranua , which administers the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund, indicates multiple levels of dysfunction in catering for the needs of survivors of residential abuse.

Instead of funding on the basis of need, the Government has limited the amount available to the €110 million promised the state by Roman Catholic religious congregations.

The sum was in exchange for indemnity from prosecution for abuse in institutions they ran on the State’s behalf.

The controversy suits the Government. It sends critics off to the Vatican demanding more funding instead of to the Government, in pursuit of a recognised official liability.

Even on its own flawed terms, the basis of the statutory fund makes no sense. The fund makes awards to persons who were abused in institutions other than those run by the Roman Catholic bodies. Abused former residents of Smyly’s institutions, who received redress compensation from the Residential Institutions Redress Board, may now apply for access to services from the Caranua fund.

But Smyly’s and other Protestant ethos institutions contributed nothing to the cost of redress. Why are Roman Catholic institutions funding that? They should pay for their own sins, but why those of other institutions?

The official goal that the Roman Catholic bodies should pay 50 per cent of the €1.5 billion cost of redress compensation is based on a flawed assumption, that 100 per cent of abuse occurred in those institutions.

The Government will not tell us how much abuse, percentage wise, the other institutions were responsible for, however small that may be. That is because focusing only on Roman Catholic responsibility for abuse keeps the focus off State responsibility for failure to detect abuse in franchised religious institutions, Roman Catholic and Protestant.

The recent C&AG report into the cost of redress reinforced this trend. It turned public attention away from HSE/Tusla responsibility for failure to protect fostered children from abuse and from demands that the remit of the Mother and Baby Home Commission of Inquiry be extended.

Victims of abuse are being victimised and humiliated again, and the public is being misdirected away from those responsible for this mess. – Yours, etc,

Dr NIALL MEEHAN,

Head,

Journalism & Media Faculty,

Griffith College, Dublin 8.