Below are questions asked by TDs in Dáil Éireann, relating to Caranua and other areas relevant to survivors
Concerns of clients of Caranua
Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the concerns of clients of Caranua regarding the agency; his plans to engage in a consultation process with clients; if he will consider legislative changes to address these concerns; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Caranua is an independent statutory body established pursuant to the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Act 2012 to oversee the use of the cash contributions of up to €110 million, pledged by the religious congregations, to support the needs of survivors of institutional child abuse. I have no role in regard to the organisation’s day to day operations.
I understand that up to the end of September 2016 Caranua had received over 5,500 applications and had spent almost €53 million on supports to or on behalf of 3,884 applicants. Therefore a significant level of funding has been provided to a large number of former residents, a fact which is to be welcomed.
I am aware that there have been complaints about aspects of Caranua’s services. In that regard I understand that Caranua takes all complaints seriously and that it has a Customer Service Charter and Feedback and Complaints Policy which may be accessed on the organisation’s website (www.caranua.ie). The website allows applicants to provide feedback, submit comments and make formal complaints in cases where there is dissatisfaction with the quality of service provided. Furthermore, Caranua comes within the scope of the Ombudsman Acts 1980 to 2012 and its administrative actions are subject to review by the Ombudsman. I should also note that Caranua is amenable to scrutiny by the Oireachtas, including its committees. Decisions of Caranua may be appealed to an independent Appeals Officer appointed in accordance with the provisions of the 2012 Act.
The 2012 Act sets out the classes of services in relation to which the Board of Caranua may determine particular services to be approved services. Provision is also made for the prescribing of additional classes of services by way of ministerial order. I am satisfied that this is an appropriate framework and is one which provides flexibility to enable Caranua meet the emerging needs of former residents. In that regard I understand that earlier this year Caranua decided to widen the range of approved services it could support including the provision of a contribution towards funeral costs. Accordingly no legislative changes are envisaged at this point in relation to this aspect of Caranua’s work.
In fulfillment of a commitment given during the passage of the 2012 Act through the Houses of the Oireachtas, I have agreed that a review of the issue of eligibility will be carried out. The terms of reference and arrangements for review are being finalised at present. The review will have regard to the level of uptake of the funding available to Caranua and will also have regard to the views of all interested parties. Any proposal that might emerge from the review process to widen eligibility would require legislation.