By Catherine Shanahan
Wednesday, July 06, 2011
THE Government is to proceed with legislation to establish a statutory fund with the power to arrange and grant-aid a range of services to support victims of residential institutional abuse.
The Residential Institutions Statutory Fund will be funded by the €110 million in cash offered to it by religious congregations by way of compensation to those abused in their care.
It follows extensive consultations with survivors of residential abuse and a public consultation process.
The seven-member fund will be run by a chief executive answerable to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and will fall within the scope of the Ombudsman and Freedom of Information legislation.
Announcing the measure yesterday, Education and Skills Minister Ruairi Quinn said more than 13,000 former residents who have received awards from the Residential Institutions Redress Board will be eligible to apply for support from the fund.
“Some former residents advocate a simple distribution of the available money,” he said.
“However, I believe that the fund should target resources at services to support former residents’ needs, such as counselling, psychological support services and mental health services, health and personal social services, educational services and housing services.”
To date, contributions of €20.6m have been received towards the statutory fund. These and the remaining contributions to be received will be invested in an investment account to be established by the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA).
The fund will take over the functions of the Education Finance Board for abuse survivors, which will be dissolved. As responsibility for information for survivors will also be taken on by the fund, funding of survivor groups by the Department of Education will cease.
The fund will have the power to hold and dispose of land or an interest in land, and may acquire, hold and dispose of any other property. Two of its members will be former residents of institutions.
Under the proposed legislation, anyone who knowingly makes a false statement or produces a false document for the purposes of obtaining assistance from the fund will be guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine of up to €1,500 or imprisonment for up to 6 months, or both. If convicted on indictment, the fine imposed can be up to €13,000 or imprisonment for up to 3 years, or both.
This appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Wednesday, July 06, 2011