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Newsletter June 2005
Friday, 3rd June 2005

This is the 9th 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. The Board's 'Guide to Hearing Procedures' issued in April 2003 and in October of last year the Board issued the second edition of its Guide to the Redress Scheme. The Board's annual report for 2004 issued to the Minister for Education and Science in April of this year. This report can be viewed on the Board's website www.rirb.ie and is available free of charge from the Board's office.

Applications:


The Board continues to receive applications at a steady rate and has received a total of 6,300 to date. The Board notifies applicants once it has received all necessary documentation in relation to their case. These notifications, known as completion letters, issue at a rate commensurate with the Board's ability to finalise applications and therefore do not always issue immediately after the Board has complied with its obligations in relation to the notification of relevant persons as outlined in the Residential Institutions Redress Act 2002 (Miscellaneous Provisions) Regulations 2002. 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 has completed the process in 3,277 cases. 2,420 offers have been made following settlement talks and 784 awards have been made following hearings. 4 applicants have rejected their awards. No award was made in 2 applications. 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. If the refusal refers to an institution now included in the scheme as a result of the Residential Institutions Redress Act 2002 (Additional Institutions) Order 2004 the application will be reconsidered by the Board


The average value of awards to date is €78,000, 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

14

0.44%

IV

55 – 69

€150,000 - €200,000

87

2.71%

III

40 – 54

€100,000 - €150,000

668

20.85%

II

25 – 39

€ 50,000 - €100,000

1884

58.80%

I

Less than 25

Up to €50,000

551

17.20%

Total

 

 

3,204

100%

Sittings

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 so as long as there are sufficient applications from the region.

Closing Date for Receipt of Applications

The Board will shortly be advertising in the national media to advise potential applicants that, in accordance with the provisions of section 8 (1) of the Residential Institutions Redress Act 2002, the closing date for receipt of applications is the 15th of December 2005.

Legal Costs

The Board has received a number of complaints from applicants who are unhappy with fees charged by solicitors over and above the sums allowed on taxation or by agreement by the Board.

The Board points out that the correct sums due (if any) are a matter for agreement between solicitor and client based on the nature of the contract entered into by the parties i.e. the solicitor and his/her client.  While the Board has no function in the matter it is lead to believe that the issue will be addressed in the forthcoming Commission to Enquire into Child Abuse (Amendment) Bill 2005 which is currently before the Oireachtas.

Counselling

In view of concerns expressed regarding the attendance of counsellors at its office in Clonskeagh the Board has decided to reproduce the relevant section from its Guide to Hearing Procedures, first published in April 2003:

'The Board appreciates that giving evidence may be a distressing experience, and that you may wish to be accompanied by a relative, friend or professional counsellor.  This is a matter for you to decide, and the Board will do its best to make appropriate facilities available so that you can discuss any matter connected with your application in private before and after the hearing.  The provision of these facilities will be more structured in the main office in Clonskeagh than in other locations.

As many applicants will already be receiving help as part of an ongoing programme (into which the Board would not wish to interpose a new counsellor), if you wish to have a counsellor available for you on the day of the hearing, you should make the necessary arrangements with your own counsellor.  But if this is not possible for any reason, and you wish to have available the services of a professional counsellor before or after the hearing, the Board will make the necessary arrangements provided you give it advance notice.

A professional counsellor will not normally be permitted to sit in at the hearing itself.  If you are legally represented, it is expected that you will be supported at the hearing by your solicitor and/or barrister.  If you are not legally represented, if you wish you may bring a family member or friend to sit with you during the hearing in order to give you moral support.

You may also be accompanied during the hearing if you have any disability or need a helper or if you have hearing difficulties and need someone to act as a signer.

If you have any doubts about who can attend the hearing with you, please telephone the Board.'

The full 'Guide to Hearing Procedures' is available on the website or directly from the Board's office.

 

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