These are the Board Meeting minutes from 9 July 2013
Sylda Langford Chair
Julie Anne Dunne
There were no apologies. However the Chair reported that Martin Power tendered his resignation from the Board due to family commitments. The Chair will write to Martin on behalf of the Board to express appreciation of his input and to wish him well for the future.
2. Minutes of the meeting Held on 13th June
The minutes of the meeting were read and formally approved. The minutes were proposed by Austin Currie and seconded by Paddy Doyle.
3. Matters Arising from the minutes not on agenda
a. Acceptable Behaviour Policy
The draft behaviour policy was reviewed by the Board and it was agreed that the policy should be made more concise and considered again by the Board in the context of systems and procedures to protect and support staff. The Chair stressed the importance that any action outlined in the policy be capable of implementation and that the rule of “what a reasonable person would think and do” be followed.
b. Report of Board workshop “what is it we do”
The report of the workshop was circulated as part of the Board papers and was noted by the Board. In this context the Chair raised the question again of inviting applications for assistance with education immediately. The basis for the suggestion was that there were already in place criteria from the Education Finance Board and that individuals wishing to start courses in 2013 could miss that opportunity if assistance was not available. A number of issues were considered in the discussion that followed including those people who may have urgent health needs or are unable to leave their homes due to disabilities. On balance it was agreed that it would be not be correct to prioritise one category such as education at this stage.
Following this, the question of whether RISF should make payments retrospectively was raised. This was discussed and it was generally felt that as there are no criteria in place, agreeing to retrospection could give potential applicants expectations that may not be delivered upon and that could leave them worse off.
4. CEO Work Report and next steps
The CEO presented a work report for the period 13th June – 8th July. Issues, discussion and decisions arising were:
- The data has been received from the Redress Board and this will be used to understand the age profile and geographical location of survivors
- Meetings with stakeholders in Ireland and the UK have been ongoing and provide important information on the needs and preferences of survivors and services available to them
- The necessity of raising awareness and reaching out to survivors outside of these islands was discussed and this will form part of the communications strategy. The Board agreed that local and specialist radio stations would be very important in this respect and some Board members already have contacts in these areas which will be helpful
- Approval has been given by the Departments of Education & Skills and Public Expenditure & Reform for recruitment of staff through the civil and public service redeployment scheme. Any suitable candidates will be interviewed and it was agreed that a survivor should be involved in these.
- The Board agreed to the appointment of a person on a three month consultancy contract and to outsource communications expertise
- The search for alternative premises has continued and additional two premises have been viewed through the OPW and one is suitable. To widen the process commercial agencies will now be approached
- Arrangements for the replacement server, computer hardware and software are now in place and the telephone system will now also be reviewed to ensure that it is fit for future purposes
- A new system to manage contacts to the office and which will be able to facilitate the management of applications and cases has been installed
- Almost 200 people have registered to receive updates on progress from us and the office is receiving an average of 7 telephone calls a day
- A bank account has been opened and this will facilitate the processing of travel and subsistence and other payments in house
- It was agreed to contract with an outside person to prepare policies and procedures that will ensure that the Board and the RISF organisation is fully compliant with legislation and regulation and other government requirements.
5. Reports from Sub Committees
a) Audit & Risk
The committee had not held a meeting since the last Board meeting but Damian has continued to oversee the investment strategy. It was agreed that the Chair should approach the Department for clarification on the schedule for receiving the balance of funds from religious congregations as the amount of money available will impact on what RISF can provide by way of assistance.
Following on from the Branding workshop a proposal to invite tenders for rebranding of RISF was considered. It was agreed that the CEO would circulate additional information on the purpose of branding with examples of other organisations which had gone through the process and members would respond individually expressing their support or otherwise for rebrandig and that a majority view would prevail.
6. Profile of target group
The Board was presented with a very preliminary analysis of the data received from the Residential Institution Redress Board (RIRB). It was agreed that the data of age, gender and broad location presented held great value and would be important for informing a concise and survivor- focused criteria. Further analysis of the data will be undertaken and presented to the Board at their next meeting. (Please see the minutes from the meeting held on 12th September 2013 for an update on data analysis)
7. Plan for developing and implementing principles, processes and procedures
The CEO presented to the Board an outline of the steps needed to be undertaken for RISF to become operational. These were:
- Setting the principles for the scheme – some of these have already been agreed at the workshop “what is that we do?” and at other board sessions
- Liaising with public bodies in Ireland – work is underway on this but will need to be intensified to ensure that there are clear and effective structures for cooperation
- Not duplicating statutory services – this will require being clear about what survivors are entitled to receive from state services as citizens and ensuring that RISF can add value rather than duplication so there is work to be done on clarifying this in Ireland and elsewhere
- Promoting understanding of services to survivors – to include communications strategy, improved website and image; and continued contact with survivors groups and other relevant agencies
- Approving services – developing criteria in terms of governance, activities, reporting, monitoring and evaluation
- Paying grants – Decisions will need to be made on the scope of the services to be included in the scheme, then it will be necessary to project the overall range and demand of those services, by type of service so that we will have an idea of what expenditure is likely to be required in each category. This requires an understanding of the needs of survivors, which is emerging through the consultation and profiling. So far health seems to be by far the largest area of demand – and will require some assessment of individual need as well as information on the unit costs of services.
- Evaluating effectiveness – process will need to be established for ongoing feedback from survivors, annual evaluation of the impact of services and benchmarking.
8. The Magadelene Commission Report
A short discussion was held on the Magadelene Commission Report which had been circulated to the members on its publication. Mary Higgins reported that she had met with the person in the Department of Justice dealing with the report in order to see if there were potential opportunities for learning from one another since some of the recommendations in the Magadelene report mirror some of the RISF activities. The Board agreed that it was important to avoid duplication of effort and resources, particularly since some women will be eligible for assistance from both bodies.
9. Next Meeting
The next meeting was scheduled for the 15th August 2013. However, it was decided that that this meeting would be cancelled to accommodate summer holidays and work on the criteria. The next meeting will be the 12th September 2013 at 10.30 a.m. Department of Education and Skills (DES) Marlborough Street, Dublin 1.