Below are questions asked in the Oireachtas, relating to Caranua and other areas relevant to survivors
Residential Institutions Redress Scheme
Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress of any measures taken by Caranua to reduce the lengthy waiting times associated with the decision making process as highlighted by the annual report of the Caranua appeals officer; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): As the Deputy is aware Caranua is an independent statutory body and I have no role in its day to day operations. I understand that Caranua has made significant efforts to address the backlog of applications that had built up from 2014 onwards and that arrears have been greatly reduced. My Department has supported Caranua in its work through for example sanctioning an increase in its approved staffing allocation so as to enable it to address the backlog.
Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he is satisfied that Caranua has sufficient staffing levels to clear the backlog of applications, with some waiting over six months.
Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): As the Deputy is aware Caranua is an independent Statutory body and it is a matter for the organization to determine its own resource requirements subject to any necessary approvals being obtained from my Department. I wish to advise that a request from Caranua for an increase in its authorized staffing complement was approved by my Department last year and I understand that the additional positions have been filled. There are no outstanding requests for additional staffing resources on hands in my Department.
Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on policies implemented by Caranua, including the restricting of awards to a fixed sum, refusing claims for eligible applicants with legitimate claims and changes to criteria that were not authorised through legislation.
Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Caranua is an independent statutory body established under the provisions of the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Act 2012. Under the legislation it is a matter for Caranua itself to determine the criteria by reference to which it makes decisions in relation to individual applications and I have no role in relation to that process.
Caranua has received over 5,600 applications and has supported some 4,000 former residents-an achievement that we should not lose sight of. It is fair to say that it is now making a meaningful contribution to the well-being of many former residents. Concerns have been expressed to me regarding aspects of Caranua’s work. Representations have been made to me and I have met with and listened to survivors. I have met with Caranua and discussed the progress the organisation is making particularly with regard to meeting clients’ needs and delivering a quality service. I have impressed on Caranua the need to operate in the best interests of its clients and am satisfied that their approach is client-centred.
Applicants to Caranua have remedies available to them, both internal and external, if they are dissatisfied with the service they have received.
The draft Terms of Reference for the proposed review of eligibility for Caranua were published on the website of the Department of Education and Skills on 15 February with a closing date of 8th March.
Once the submissions have been reviewed, the Terms of Reference will be finalised and arrangements put in place to carry out the review.
Residential Institutions Redress Scheme Eligibility
Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills the likely timeframe for the review of eligibility to the Caranua scheme; the number of personnel that are involved in the review; and the stakeholders they represent.
Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): The closing date for the receipt of submissions in regard to the draft Terms of Reference of the proposed review of eligibility for Caranua was 8 March last. A number of submissions have been received and these are being considered at present. Once that process has been completed the Terms of Reference will be finalised and the arrangements will then be put in place to carry out the review.