THE new board responsible for compensating Survivors of institutional abuse in Ireland must clarify what Britain-based services it will fund, charity leaders say.
Following the inaugural meeting of the board of the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund, the leaders of two charities supporting Survivors based in Britain told The Irish Post they do not know if they are eligible for any of the £94million Fund.
“The position of a lot of groups at the moment is that we need to meet with the board’s chair and CEO as a matter of urgency,” said Jeff Moore, leader of the London Irish Centre’s outreach service.
Referring to legislation underpinning the Fund, Mr Moore added: “It seems that money will follow clients. The Fund is not necessarily designed to pay for a big service for Survivors at the London Irish Centre.”
The legislation states that financial awards from the Fund can only be made to Survivors who received compensation from the Redress Board or in court.
Simon McCarthy, who runs Coventry Irish Society’s welfare programme for Survivors, said he too is unsure whether his organisation will be eligible to apply for a grant from the Fund.
He suggested that a number of the group’s 450 members might have to come together to launch a joint application, but it is not yet clear whether such a move will be possible.
“We have 10 years of experience,” Mr McCarthy added. “It would be illogical for them not to fund us.”
The charity leaders’ confusion is compounded by the fact that compensation from the Statutory Fund will take the form of grants given directly to providers of “approved services” accessed by an applying Survivor. Defining “approved services” will be one of the new board’s top priorities at its meetings in late spring and summer.
The legislation states that such services must fall under four classes of service; mental health, health and social services, education and housing support.
Since early 2012 the Survivor outreach programmes run at Coventry Irish Society and London Irish Centre have been funded directly by Ireland’s Department of Education and Skills via rolling monthly grants. A spokesperson for the Department told The Irish Post that funding will be cut when the Fund opens, although the opening date has yet to be confirmed.
Last month, Sally Mulready said she expects organisations to have to make themselves “more relevant” in order to be eligible for funding from the Statutory Fund.
“The point of the Fund is to make sure that money goes as directly as possible to individual Survivors,” she added. “It is not for the maintenance of existing outreach services in their present form.”
Phyllis Morgan, a Britain-based Survivor who has been appointed to the Fund’s board, told The Irish Post that her priority is to advocate for the maintenance of British outreach programmes.
At the board’s first meeting in Dublin on Wednesday, March 27, the nine-person committee appointed Mary Higgins, a Survivor researcher and policy advisor, as its CEO.
The board is expected to open its call for applications from Survivors later this year and will launch a website containing information on applying in the coming months.