A charity that supports survivors of institutional abuse has said a statutory body established to improve their lives is “too broad in its outlook” and has called on the Government to review the services it provides.
Caranua was established in 2012 to manage €110 million pledged by religious congregations to enhance survivors’ lives.
Right of Place Second Chance provides support to more than 1,000 survivors of institutional abuse and their family members across Ireland each year.
Michael Walsh, director of services at the charity, said Caranua "is being given a mandate that's far too wide for the very complex needs of survivor of institutional abuse".
Mr Walsh was speaking at the launch of the charity’s submission to Government, After the Spotlight, on the long-term support for survivors of institutional abuse and their families.
“We need to put some of the items that are within Caranua and that Caranua are responsible for on a statutory footing so that then Caranua can expand its services to meet the more complex needs of survivors,” Mr Walsh said.
“What we would like to happen is that there’s an implementation of these policies so that housing and health in particular are put on a statutory footing.”
Lives of survivors
The charity has called on the Government to review the services provided by Caranua and its implementation of the policies falling within its remit to determine “whether it has succeeded in its goal of improving the lives of survivors”.
The submission states recent figures released by the Department of Education independent appeals officers illustrate the number of appeals against Caranua’s decisions has almost doubled.
“There has also been significant controversy over the level and types of support needed and some survivors feel that the fund itself is, in fact ‘re-abusing’ survivors of institutional abuse,” the submission states.
“Despite the findings of existing academic research pertaining to the specific needs of survivors, Caranua is currently failing in its endeavours to fulfil those needs, particularly for the most marginalised and the most vulnerable of its clients.”
Caranua was established under the 2012 Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Act and is run by a board that includes survivors, under the auspices of the Department of Education.
The charity has recommended “equitable access” to enhanced medical care services currently afforded to similar groups, automatic State pension (contributory) entitlement for eligible survivors and granting survivors priority access to social housing and priority in their resettlement needs .
It has also recommended access to funding for education, training and associated supports for families of survivors “many of whom are typically from a lower socio-economic background” and establishing a national framework for the future.
Tom Wall, a board member with the charity, said some recommendations of the Ryan report "were never fully implemented". Plans to build a memorial to victims of institutional abuse had "more or less been shelved".
The Journey of Light was chosen in July 2012 as the memorial for abuse victims by a committee set up by the department following a year-long design competition.
“Survivors still want this monument built and unveiled in their lifetime as a recognition for future generations to what occurred in these institutions,” Mr Wall said. “It’s very important that this project goes ahead.”
A plan to build a memorial in the Garden of Remembrance on Parnell Square in Dublin 1 was refused permission by An Bord Pleanála in 2013, on the grounds it would have an adverse impact on the setting, character and function of the existing memorial to those who died fighting for Irish freedom. It was deemed that the association between the two memorials was inappropriate.