Below are questions asked by TDs in Dáil Éireann, relating to Caranua
Role of Ombudsman
Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills if an applicant to Caranua who is unhappy with a decision handed down by an appeals officer has the right to appeal the decision to the Ombudsman; and the reason applicants are not informed of this right. [29459/14]
Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): In accordance with section 22(6) of the Residential institutions Statutory Fund, Act 2012 a person affected by a decision of the Appeals Officer can appeal to the High Court on a point of law within 28 days of receipt of the Appeals Officer’s decision. Any decision of the High Court on such appeal shall be final and conclusive in accordance with section 22(8) of the Act. Caranua includes information on the appeals process when notifying decisions to applicants.
The Appeals Officer is independent of Caranua in the performance of his functions. While Caranua comes within the scope of the Ombudsman Acts 1980 to 2012, the actions of persons such as independent appeals officers are generally excluded from investigation by the Ombudsman.
Education Finance Board
Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of persons who received payments from the old Education Finance Board who have applied for payments from Caranua; and the number of these persons who have been refused payments. [29460/14]
Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): The information sought by the Deputy is not available. Caranua and the former Education Finance Board are separate bodies with distinct schemes involving different eligibility criteria. The functions vested in the Education Finance Board were transferred on its dissolution to Caranua until such time as the investment account which financed the former Education Finance Board is closed. Caranua has advised that in compliance with its data protection obligations, there will be no cross-referencing of applications made to it and the former Education Finance Board.
Number of payments made
Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of applications made to Caranua to date; the number of payments made to applicants; and if he is satisfied with the speed at which progress is being made. [29406/14]
Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): I understand that by 30th June, Caranua had received 2,921 applications and had made 368 payments in respect of 118 applicants. The first stage of the application process involves verifying an applicant’s eligibility and proof of identity. Once confirmed applicants are contacted by one of Caranua’s Application Advisers, who discusses their needs and how Caranua can meet those needs. While some applicants may know exactly what they want to apply for, in other cases it may involve several conversations with their Application Advisor and they may access a number of services.
I am aware that there has a delay in processing applications, which has arisen due to the number of applications and calls received being higher than expected and the time taken to recruit staff. Caranua’s four Application Advisors are in place since late May and my Department has recently approved Caranua’s request to engage an Agency to provide temporary additional resources to address the backlog.
Value of 368 Payments made by Caranua by 30th June in respect of 118 applicants
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