Concerns about Caranua to be raised with Government by Irish in Britain group

Two members of Caranua board resign alleging ‘mistreatment’ of survivors

Earlier this month two new members of the Caranua board resigned citing its “mistreatment” of survivors. Thomas Cronin and Dr Mary Lodato were appointed to the board by Minister for Education Richard Bruton. Photograph: Collins

One of the biggest organisations representing UK-based survivors of religious institutional abuse will raise concerns with the Government about Caranua, the independent statutory agency tasked with providing services to survivors.

Brian Dalton, chief executive of Irish in Britain (IIB), told The Irish Times many of its 100 member organisations working with survivors had raised issues.

These included lack of awareness about Caranua’s existence, long delays getting responses from the organisation and difficulties that survivors – many of whom are elderly and have low literacy – had making applications.

“Caranua was raised at our agm on January 27th and a motion passed that we would prioritise the needs of survivors and make representations [to Government and the Caranua board] on their behalf.”


Simon McCarthy, manager of the Coventry-based Midlands Irish Survivors Service – an IIB member – will meet the Caranua board in April about his concerns.

‘Alarming situation’

In a letter to Caranua dated February 19th, he drew the board’s attention to “the alarming situation with regard to Irish survivors living in the UK”.

He says about 2,000 UK-based survivors of institutional abuse who qualify for Caranua support have not applied, while about 1,000 have.

This is “not an acceptable situation” and “a coherent plan to address the needs of survivors in the UK” is urgently needed.

Earlier this month two new members of the Caranua board 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.

UK-based survivors

Dr Lodato has worked with UK-based survivors for over 20 years. She says she had hoped her expertise would help the organisation understand their needs, but this had been “at odds” with Caranua’s expectations of her.

Caranua, 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". She later "unreservedly" withdrew the comments.

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland is Social Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times