Late applications to abuse survivors’ fund to be revisited, TDs told

Committee chairman says it would be a travesty if abuse survivors ‘left high and dry’

Fianna Fáil TD Seán Fleming, PAC chairman said ‘We can’t leave a couple of hundred people out there’. File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins.

Fianna Fáil TD Seán Fleming, PAC chairman said ‘We can’t leave a couple of hundred people out there’. File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins.

 

Hundreds of survivors of institutional child abuse who have been denied access to financial supports may have their applications reopened, the Public Accounts Committee has been told.

Nearly 400 people have missed out on supports for health, housing and other needs from Caranua because they applied after a deadline for applications closed last year.

Rachel Downes, chief executive of Caranua, said that these survivors may be given payments if there is leftover funding when the organisation winds up in the coming months.

Caranua was established in 2012 to manage €110 million pledged by religious congregations to enhance survivors’ lives.

Once an outstanding payment of €3 million is received from the Christian Brothers in the coming weeks, the organisation will have a fund of some €8 million remaining. There are 317 open applications for support that were received before the closing date for applications to the fund last year.

Committee chairman Seán Fleming, a Fianna Fáil TD, said that once these survivors were given their financial supports, there could be as much as €2 million leftover. Some 378 people applied for funding after the deadline.

“Obviously, it’s looking at need, we know now we have a very limited pot of money,” Ms Downes said. “And it’s about now looking at what we can provide to the survivors that are still remaining. Then it’s ensuring that the reminder of the fund is put to good use.”

Caranua chairman David O’Callaghan said the late applications would be revisited.

Mr Fleming said it would be a “travesty” if survivors were left “high and dry”. He said an analysis needs to be carried out to look at how much it would cost to accommodate those 378 people who applied after the deadline with the financial supports they need.

“We can’t leave a couple of hundred people out there. A lot of them must be in a panic situation,” Mr Fleming said.

The average payment made to survivors is about €13,000.

The fund began accepting applications in January 2014 and has since received 6,543 applications for financial support. By the end of September, more than 54,000 funding support payments to the value of €91 million had been made.

The largest allocations of such funding went towards home improvements at €65 million, followed by health supports at €24.5 million, education at €1.4 million and exceptional needs support payments of €280,000.

Fine Gael TD Kate O’Connell said Caranua had been a “basket case” ever since its establishment and that the organisation was only now starting to operate properly.