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Newsletter October 2004
Thursday, 21st October 2004

This is the 6th in a series of newsletters which the Board has decided to produce to keep applicants informed from time to time as to the procedures it follows and other developments. Our first five newsletters issued in March, June, August, October and December of 2003. The Board's 'Guide to Hearing Procedures' issued in April 2003 and the Board's annual report issued to the Minister for Education and Science in April of this year.

The Board:

The number of Board members has now increased to 10. These are

The Honourable Mr. Justice Sean O'Leary (Chairman) - appointed 16th December 2002 
Professor Desmond Greer - appointed 16th December 2002 
Dr. Helen Cummiskey - appointed 16th December 2002 
Dr. Ruth Pilkington - appointed 16th December 2002 
Ms. Ann O'Brien B.L. - appointed 23rd May 2003 
Dr. John Mason - appointed 23rd September 2003
Dr. Mary Bluett - appointed 25th September 2003 
Ms. Dariona Conlon, Solicitor - appointed 9th January 2004 
Mr. John Campbell, Solicitor - appointed 27th April 2004 
Dr. Fionnuala O'Loughlin - appointed 27th April 2004

Applications:

The Board continues to receive applications at a steady rate and has received a total of 4,633 to date. Applicants are reminded that the statutory steps and times allowed for each step laid down in the Act and Regulations now occupy a minimum of 14 weeks. This assumes that all necessary documentation has been lodged with the Board. It is only when the Board has received all the necessary documentation that the 14 week timescale commences. In broad terms the first 8 weeks is taken up notifying relevant persons as outlined in the Residential Institutions Redress Act 2002 (Miscellaneous Provisions) Regulations 2002. The following 6 weeks is taken up confirming with the applicant or his/her solicitor that the application is complete (2 weeks) and scheduling the application for hearing or settlement (4 weeks). In some instances this may be extended if the applicant or his/her solicitor indicate that they wish to lodge additional documentation.

Applicants are reminded that the timeframe outlined above is the minimum period required to process an application and only commences when the Board has received all the documents it requires. At the time of writing it can take up to 6 months for a case to be scheduled once the Board has issued a completion letter to the applicant or his/her solicitor indicating that the application is ready to proceed to hearing or settlement. This timeframe does not apply to those entitled to priority on grounds of age or medical condition.

Awards:

To date the Board have completed the process in 2,011 cases. 1,489 offers have been made following settlement talks and 450 awards have been made following hearings, two of which were rejected by the applicants. No award was made in one application. In applications covering 71 applicants refusals have issued for one reason or another. These applications have been refused as, on the face of the documentation, the application was outside the Boards terms of reference as laid down in the 2002 Act. In other words the applications did not relate to residential institutions as defined in the Act. These applications are determined by the Board immediately on receipt so that the applicant is informed at the earliest possible date that his/her application is outside the ambit of the redress scheme.

The average value of awards to date is €77,000, the smallest award being €0.00 and the largest award being €300,000.

Redress Board Bands

The breakdown of awards by Redress Band is as follows

Redress Bands

Total Weightings for Severity of Abuse and Injury/Effects of Abuse

Award Payable by way of Redress

Number

Percentage

V

70 or more

€200,000 - €300,000

11

0.57

IV

55 – 69

€150,000 - €200,000

60

3.09

III

40 – 54

€100,000 - €150,000

383

19.75

II

25 – 39

€ 50,000 - €100,000

1157

59.67

I

Less than 25

Up to €50,000

328

16.92

Total

   

1939

100.00

The Board sits every day in its premises in Clonskeagh and now completes approximately 180 cases per month. It has also sat in Galway and Limerick. The Board sits for approximately one week per month in Cork and will continue to do as long as there are sufficient applications from the region.

Advertising in the United Kingdom

The Board has sent a total of 15,000 documents to Irish Centres in the United Kingdom. These consist of posters, short guides to the redress scheme and single page handouts. The Board has asked that these documents be prominently displayed in the centres in the hope that they will be seen by the maximum number of potential applicants. The Board's U.K. lo-call number 0845 300 4264 is displayed in all of the documents.

In March and April the Board hosted a total of 12 information meetings in Manchester, London, Birmingham, Coventry and Leeds as well as placing advertisements in selected Sunday and daily papers.

Review of Publications

The Board is currently updating its 'Guide to the Redress Scheme under the Residential Institutions Redress Act, 2002' to reflect the minor changes to the scheme which have taken place since its inception. Until the revised guide is published the original guide should be read in conjunction with the Board's newsletters which reflect these changes.

Advice on Financial Management of Award

In accordance with Section 21 of the Residential Institutions Redress Act, 2002, the Board has established a free, confidential and independent service through which applicants who have received an award may be given advice as to financial management of the award. Its purpose is to give advice which is general in nature, covering the options open to award recipients, but not directing them to named financial institutions or brokers.

The Board has appointed an existing body called MABS (Money Advice and Budgeting Service) to operate the service. MABS are locally based independent information and advice providers operating as limited companies.

MABS has been in operation since 1992 and more details about it are available on website: www.mabs.ie. The Redress Board scheme will be separate from MABS usual advice services.
The Board will advise all award recipients of the service through their solicitors or directly if unrepresented. MABS may be contacted on 01/ 8645656.

Confidentiality

On November 4th 2003 the Board issued a statement as follows: 'The Residential Institutions Redress Board notes that in commenting on certain procedures of the Board sections of the media have identified applicants by name. Further, in some cases, the name of the institution in which the applicant claimed to have been abused has been published.

The Board welcomes scrutiny of its decisions and criticism of its actions but those involved in this process are obliged to structure their reports and comments without identifying any party covered by the provisions of Section 28(6) of the Residential Institutions Redress Act 2002. This section provides:
'A person shall not publish any information concerning an application or an award made under this Act that refers to any other person (including an applicant), relevant person or institution by name or which could reasonably lead to the identification of any person (including the applicant), a relevant person or an institution referred to in an application made under this Act'.

While the Board continues to welcome scrutiny of its decisions and criticism of its actions it reminds those who breach this section of the Act of the provisions of section 34 which states: 'A person who is guilty of an offence under sections 7(6) and 28(9) shall be liable-

(a) on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding €3,000 (£2,362.69) or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or both, or
(b) on conviction on indictment, to a fine not exceeding €25,000 (£19,689.10) or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years or both.'

The Board also points out that the fact that a person has applied for and/been granted redress in no way hinders a person from criticising and/or publicising any wrong suffered (subject to the laws of defamation). It is only the disclosure of the fact of an application to this Board and/or any award, and/or the name of any institution or person in the context of an application that is prohibited. An applicant may still publicise his or her experiences in an institution but must not include any information relating to the fact of an application to or award by the Board.

The above does not purport to be a legal interpretation. Those requiring a fuller understanding of the requirements in relation to confidentiality should refer to the Residential Institutions Redress Act 2002.

Reception Facilities

The Board would like to take this opportunity to update you on the facilities available at its headquarters and how it proposes putting them to best use now that it is working at full capacity. Seven rooms are available for the use of applicants and their legal advisers. The reception area, hearing rooms, waiting rooms and toilet facilities are all wheelchair accessible. Daily newspapers, magazines, tea and coffee are all provided to applicants free of charge.

On arrival applicants and their legal advisers should make themselves known to the staff member at reception who will then show them to a room. Volume of business means that rooms cannot be reserved and it may not always be possible to provide separate rooms for applicants and their legal advisers. This may mean that applicants have to share a room with other applicants or with their legal advisers. If this is the case the staff member co-ordinating reception will inform you. In order to use the space most effectively it would be of great assistance if solicitors could indicate whether their clients will be attending and, if so, how many others will be accompanying them. This will help us to allocate the larger rooms to those who need them. In this regard the Board is particularly mindful of those with special needs.

On occasion solicitors and applicants have arrived several hours in advance of the time scheduled for their settlement or hearing. This is not a problem for cases scheduled for 10.30 a.m as the office opens at 9.00 a.m. It does however cause problems for cases scheduled after that. In such cases it is rarely possible to provide rooms as they will need to be given to those whose applications have been scheduled for an earlier time. In order to avoid any inconvenience we recommend that in cases scheduled for any time after 10.30 a.m, applicants and their legal advisers should arrive approximately half an hour before the appointed time.

The Board's aim is to maximise the benefit that all its customers derive from its facilities and is confident that the steps outlined above will help it to achieve this. The Board will of course continue to do all it can to facilitate those with special requirements.

 

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