29 May, 2018 - Minister Bruton publishes Caranua eligibility review

The Minister for Education and Skills Richard Bruton T.D. today (Tuesday 29th of May) published the Caranua Eligibility Review, following approval from Cabinet. 

Caranua is the independent Statutory Body responsible for providing for services for people who, as children, experienced abuse in residential institutions in Ireland. It caters for people who have already received settlements, Redress Board or Court awards and has supported a diverse range of needs. 

Caranua’s role is to use contributions from religious congregations to fund approved services to support survivors' needs. These services include health and personal social services, educational services and housing services. To date, Caranua has made payments to 5068 individuals and had paid out for services worth some €72.5 million on the following services: 

-        Health                            €19.7m (27%)

-        Housing                         €51.3m (71%)

-        Education                      €1.3m (1.8%)

-        Exceptional needs        €0.17m (0.2%)

Caranua has added additional specific services within these overall categories in response to the expressed needs of the survivors. 

Given that the maximum resource available to the Fund is €110m, a Review was undertaken by the Department of Education and Skills to determine the implications of extending the eligibility criteria in the event that there was going to be an underspend of the Fund by the people currently eligible to apply to it. 

This Review was approved by government today and is now being published. The Review shows that the monies will be fully spent for the group of survivors whom the fund was originally targeted.  It is clear that the fund is not going to be undersubscribed and therefore will continue to be used for the benefit of those survivors. Caranua is currently engaging proactively with survivors and their representative groups to ensure that the remaining funds reach as many of those survivors as possible.  

A number of survivors have sought the holding of a series of meetings which would serve as a forum for former residents and others with close personal involvement to reflect on their experiences, the State’s response to the issue of institutional abuse and to make any recommendations they wish to make.  

The Minister supports this proposal and wishes to facilitate consultations with survivors built around survivors’ experiences of the measures that the State put in place following the realisation of the systemic abuse that occurred in residential institutions. This consultation will be managed through an external facilitator.  

We would like to get the views of survivors on how that consultation process should proceed. To give your views, a short survey form can be accessed at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/N8YXKQ9. A freefone service will be operational later in the week which will be operated by Barnardos and allow people to give their views over the phone.  

The Minister will also convene an interdepartmental committee to examine how existing mainstream State services can best meet the needs of survivors into the future. This committee will include representatives from the Department of Education and Skills, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Department of Justice and Equality and the Department of Health and will hold its first meeting in the near future.  

Notes for editor 

A Dáil Private Members’ motion was passed in 2017, with the support of the government, calling for a number of improvements to be made to Caranua. Since that motion passed a number of positive developments have taken place. 

  • Caranua is now publishing statistics on the feedback they receive from survivors and for 2017, there was a 90% satisfaction rate. More recent statistics published on the Caranua website show that 95% of the feedback between January and March of this year was positive.
  • In 2016, following consultation with survivors, the Board changed their criteria to include household goods and funeral expenses.  This was in response to what survivors were calling for on how the fund should be utilised.
  • As well as having to comply with the Code of Practice for the Governance for State Bodies, Caranua is in process of implementing the following measures: 

-        It is reviewing its customer charter;

-        It is making data available on feedback and complaints received;

-        It is increasing the level of face-to-face engagement with applicants.

         It is doing this through scheduled face-to-face meetings in various venues in Dublin, in the regions and in the UK.

-       It is enhancing the level of statistics it provides to the Department and to the public on waiting times for processing

        and communicating decisions.