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Protest at Pro Cathedral over government plans for abuse survivors’ trust fund

Victims of institutional abuse oppose plans to establish a trust fund for abuse victims, instead of simply giving cash payments.

Image: James Horan/Photocall ireland

Updated, 14:03

SURVIVORS OF INSTITUTIONAL abuse are today holding a demonstration outside the Pro Cathedral in Dublin, demonstrating at plans to set up a trust fund for abuse victims instead of administering direct cash payments.

The protest follows plans by education minister Ruairí Quinn to establish a Residential Institutions Statutory Fund which would cover the costs of medical treatment and counselling for people who were subjected to abuse in state residential institutions.

It was claimed during Dáil debates on the legislation on Tuesday that the majority of abuse survivors oppose the establishment of such a fund, perceiving it as an attempt to manage and regulate funds which were intended to go to victims.

One abuse survivor, Cathriona Barker, told TheJournal.ie that victims see the plan for a trust fund, managed by a board of nine members including four abuse victims, as an attempt to “control” survivors.

“The religious crowd apologised to us, through Bertie Ahern and so on,” she said. “They were giving the money to us, to bring some sort of comfort to us, and now Ruairí Quinn has his hands on the money and he won’t hand it over.”

Barker, who was a resident at both St Vincent’s Industrial School in Goldenbridge and Errigal House in Rathdrum, argued that the services to be covered by the trust fund – such as counselling and dental treatment – were already provided to survivors as everyday citizens.

“Everyone that’s not working is entitled to a medical card,” she said. “People are entitled to council houses, dental treatment, the same as everyone else.

“We don’t want to be controlled by Ruairí Quinn, or by the Catholic Church, any more,” she said, adding:

We want what’s rightfully ours – we feel the government is robbing us again. It robbed us of our childhoods and now it’s robbing us of our compensation.

Another abuse survivor, author Paddy Doyle, said he was unsure of whether a straightforward cash payment system could be fair, and said he feared that the fund could became a way to “prop up” funding for health services, which would already pay for most treatments anyway.

He also queried whether straightforward cash payments, if they were made, would be weighted in line with the payments issued by the Residential Institutions Redress Board – which made awards of between €30,000 and €300,000.

The proposed Residential Institutions Statutory Fund would be funded by €110 million to be paid by the 18 religious orders which managed the institutions, of which €21 million has been paid so far.

If the entire €110 million was paid into the fund, each of the 15,000-or-so victims of residential abuse would receive an average payment of €7,300 each.

Read: Quinn insists: Religious orders must meet remaining €470 million abuse bill

More: Quinn: I’ve been caricatured as enemy of the Catholic Church

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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