These are the Board Meeting minutes from 19 June 2014
We are happy to publish the minutes of our Board meetings so that Board activities and decisions are accountable. There is always a delay between the meeting held and the publication of the minutes. This is because the minutes must be approved before they can be published. Minutes are approved at the meeting after the meeting they are a record off. For example, if a Board meeting is held in March and the next meeting is held in April, the minutes of the March meeting will not be on the website until after the April meeting.
David O’Callaghan, Chair
There were no apologies.
2. Minutes of the meeting held on 22nd May 2014
The minutes of the meeting of 22nd May 2014 were considered by the Board and approved, proposed by Tom Daly and seconded by Austin Currie.
3. Matters Arising from the minutes not on agenda
(a) Annual Report
The Annual Report has been laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas. Since the audited accounts have yet to be completed, it was agreed that the Annual Report should be published as it is. Once the accounts are available they will be added to the document to become “Annual Report and Accounts”. The Annual Report wlll make this clear.
(b) Guidelines and Application Form
The edition two Guidelines have now been printed, together with the Application Form Part 2. The Guidelines are on the website and these and forms will be sent to applicants once they have received a call from an Application Advisor with a letter highlighting the fact that the Guidelines will be used flexibly to ensure a tailored response to individual needs. The documents have also been circulated to survivor support groups so that they can help with applications.
(c) Proposal for addressing the backlog in applications
As agreed at the last meeting, the CEO wrote to the Department of Education and Skills to stress the urgency of securing their approval for our proposal, submitted on 9th May, to put in place temporary Advisors to address the backlog in applications. Subsequently another submission was prepared for the Department, further statistical analysis was then provided and a meeting was held with Dermot Mulligan.
A letter has been now been received from the Department approving our proposal, subject to its approval of the contract and assurances of its compliance with Public Procurement Guidelines. This will be submitted as soon as it is available.
(d) Enhanced medical card for former residents eligible for Caranua
The CEO reported that she had discussed the issue with Dermot Mulligan in the Department of Education and Skills who will consider our proposals on the issue. It was agreed that the CEO should prepare a proposal for the Board to consider at its meeting in September, including an examination of costs and other implications.
(e) Insurance cover
As agreed at the last meeting the CEO wrote seeking further information and advice from the Department of Education and Skills regarding our ineligibility for cover by the State Claims Agency. In reply, the Department has informed us that the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform has agreed that the arrangements for indemnity against the costs of legal action, already in place for civil servants, can be applied to Caranua Board and staff members. The issue of public liability is still under investigation.
(f) States of Fear
This screening of the documentary by the late Mary Rafferty was attended by members of staff. The event was focused on the impact of documentary and investigative journalism rather than institutional abuse.
(g) Munster Survivors Mass of Reconciliation
Fiona and Mary attended this mass in Cork organised by Munster Survivors. This was followed by the launch of a new service for survivors Towards Peace. This service, which has been established by Catholic bishops and religious congregations, will provide a one to one support service to survivors interested in spiritual healing and reconciliation.
(h) Towards Healing
A further meeting was held between the CEOs of Towards Healing and Caranua. The Board agreed that we should do everything we can to address the needs of people using the services of Towards Healing, on an individual basis, where they are eligible to apply to Caranua.
4. Report on applications
The statistical report on the processing of applications which had been circulated with the Board papers was considered in some detail. It was agreed that future reports should also provide information on application outcomes other than payments, such as securing services from state bodies through advocacy.
In the context of consideration of the statistics and our unacceptably slow rate of processing applications, it was suggested that sending applications forms at the beginning of the process would expedite matters. This was discussed and it was generally agreed that the application backlog is due to our having insufficient personnel resources when we began accepting applications in January. Notwithstanding this, it was agreed to assess the application process in September when we have completed a larger number of applicaitons.
5. CEO Report
The CEO work report for the period 23rd May to 9th June had been circulated with the Board papers and was considered at the meeting. Key issues discussed and decisions arising were:
- The introduction of freepost for all parts of the world was welcomed as a positive development by the Board
- Our full complement of ten staff, is in place since the end of May
- Once we begin to clear the backlog in applications, this will cause increased demand in the areas of approval and payments. To address this we will require additional administrative staff which the Department has advised could be supplied through the Public Appointments Service temporary clerical officer panel
- In this context, and in furtherance of our commitment to support opportunities for survivors to apply for roles within Caranua, it was agreed to seek clarification from the Department on the scope of the Board under Section 17 of the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Act, 2013; and to establish whether the temporary clerical officer panel was closed.
6. Report of Audit & Risk Sub-Committee
Damian Casey reported on the most recent meeting of the Audit & Risk Sub-Committee:
- The sub committee proposed that our accountants be contracted to review the payments system, financial reporting system and to advice on a risk management system. This expected to cost €5,900 and this was approved by the Board
- The payments made to date were reviewed by the sub committee. It was agreed that in the future there should be a more detailed breakdown by item
- Damian presented the return on the investment strategy to date, as some investments were due to mature this month. The current strategy is low risk and low return, at a rate of 0.3%. He suggested that we could investigate alternative approaches and this was agreed by the Board.
The letter from the Department of Education and Skills approving the recruitment of temporary Advisors also raised some other issues which were discussed by the Board. Issues arising and decisions were:
- It was clarified that the staffing structure which was approved by the Departments of Education and Skills and Public Expenditure and Reform was decided prior to the establishment of the Board by the Departments and the Board had no control over the number of staff or the grades of those staff. Within the predetermined allocation of staff, the Board agreed job roles and responsibilties which were subsequently approved by the two Departments
- There is a requirement under the Statutory Fund Act for the Board to secure the approval of the Department for the employment of staff and other contracts and this was again noted by the Board. Given that this is a cumbersome process and can delay the implementation of decisions, the Board agreed to request that the Department delegate authority to the Board to sanction contracts of up to €50,000
- Given the close working relationship between Caranua and the Department of Education and Skills it was agreed that the Department should be requested to appoint a representative to attend Board meetings in and ex officio capacity in order to expedite matters of common concern and interest.
8. Parliamentary questions
The most recent responses were noted by the Board.
The Board noted the proposed contracts for mobile phones and the destruction of the EFB files and architectural services for the new premises. It was pointed out that there is a Government framework in place for mobile phones that would provide better value than that quoted.
There was discussion on expanding the range of approved services that we could support, in particular funeral costs. We had approached the Department on this issue last year and been advised that we could revisit it once we are operational. It was agreed that the CEO will prepare a proposal for consideration by the Board at its meeting in September.
11. Next Meeting
The next meeting of the Board will be held on 4th September at 10.30 a.m. in the Department of Education and Skills.