News & Events

Parliamentary Questions – 17 November 2016

Below are questions asked in the Oireachtas, relating to Caranua and other areas relevant to survivors

Extending medical card to Caranua applicants

Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Health if he will consider extending enhanced medical card provision similar to that of survivors from the Magdalene laundries to survivors of abuse in other institutions of the State, in particular those who are eligible to apply to the Caranua organisation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. 

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): As part of a support package, including a range of financial payments, that was approved by Government for former residents of Magdalen Laundries, eligibility for health services for the Magdalen women is provided by the Redress for Women Resident in Certain Institutions Act 2015.

The Act sets out the primary and community health services made available, free of charge, to qualifying women. The health services included in the legislation are: a general practitioner service; prescribed drugs, medicines, aids and appliances; dental, ophthalmic and aural services; home nursing; home support; chiropody; physiotherapy; and counselling services. In addition, the prescription fee is not be payable for all medicines, medical devices or other medical products that are reimbursed by the community drug schemes. A specific card has been issued to the qualifying women so that they can access the health services they require without charge, as set out in the Act. There are no proposals at present to extend automatic eligibility to other victims of institutional abuse. Caranua is an organisation which offers support, information, advice and advocacy to survivors. For example they will help members get the services they are entitled to as citizens, and improve access to those services.

They can also pay for services so that each member has the supports needed, and can give grants to individuals to source services themselves. The areas Caranua provide help with will depend on the needs and circumstances of each individual. However, where there are people with medical needs it is important that they should be able to access necessary assistance in a straight forward manner. It is clear greater discretion is being exercised by the HSE because the number of discretionary medical cards in circulation has increased from about 52,000 in mid-2014 to over 113,210 as of 1 November this year.

Seanad Debate: Call on Minister Bruton to appear before Seanad to discuss Caranua

Lynn Ruane:  ….Will the Leader invite the Minister for Education and Skills to address the Seanad to answer concerns relating to Caranua, the State body which administers the fund for survivors of institutional abuse? This fund was intended to provide support, relief and training for those who suffered the worst treatment imaginable in the industrial schools. The legacy of the industrial schools is one of the greatest stains on our history. While I applaud the intention to provide State support to survivors, it is clear this fund, and how it is administered, is failing the very people it was intended to help.

It must be kept in mind that it is an ageing population, which has access to this fund, and how important it is they are treated with respect and dignity. Survivors have reported extraordinarily negative experiences when dealing with Caranua. They have contacted a number of elected representatives to express their dismay. They are a group of people who are understandably distrustful of engaging with any bureaucracy. It is unacceptable they are being dealt with so poorly. The delayed 2015 report of the appeal officer showed a State body being administered poorly which needs to be further investigated. Survivors have also reported the sudden erroneous closing of active cases by the body with no adequate reasons given. Will the Leader call on the Minister for Education and Skills to discuss this matter in the House?