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Newsletter November 2005
Thursday, 10th November 2005

This is the 11th 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 rate at which the Board receives applications has increased noticeably in recent months with the Board now receiving more than 600 per month and a total of 9551 to date. While all applications will continue to be acknowledged as soon as is practicable this will inevitably take considerably more time than heretofore.

 

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 4267 cases. 3154 offers have been made following settlement talks and 1006 awards have been made following hearings. 5 applicants have rejected their awards. 17 applications resulted in an award of €0.00 or no award. In applications covering 90 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 or the Residential Institutions Redress Act 2002 (Additional Institutions) Order 2005 the application will be reconsidered by the Board.

 

 

The average value of awards to date is €76,500, 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

16

0.38%

IV

55 – 69

€150,000 - €200,000

109

2.61%

III

40 – 54

€100,000 - €150,000

827

19.81%

II

25 – 39

€ 50,000 - €100,000

2466

59.07%

I

Less than 25

Up to €50,000

757

18.13%

Total

 

 

4175

100%

 

 

Dealings with Staff.

 

In the recent past a small number of applicants have acted in an unacceptable manner when dealing with staff.  Abusive language has been used and threats of violence made both over the telephone and in person. The staff endeavour at all times to provide a professional and courteous service to applicants and their legal representatives and the Board will not tolerate such abusive conduct. Accordingly staff members have been instructed to note any unacceptable conduct and bring it to the attention of the Board.

 

The Board has a duty to protect its staff members while processing the maximum numbers of cases in the shortest time. The processing of cases where staff members are abused by applicants entails the devotion of inordinate periods of staff time as the protection of staff members may require duplication of personnel.  Where staff members are mistreated in this fashion the Board will adjourn the case to the end of the list so as to assist the prompt processing of the maximum number of applications in the common good.

 

 

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.

 

 

Advertising

 

 

In accordance with its remit under section 5 (b) of the Residential Institutions Redress Act 2002 to 'make all reasonable efforts, through public advertisement, direct correspondence with persons who were residents of an institution and otherwise, to ensure that persons who were residents of an institution are made aware of the function……of the Board' an extensive advertising campaign has been undertaken by the Board.

 

Advertisements have been placed in all the national broadsheet and tabloid newspapers as well as the main provincial newspapers. Advertisements have also been placed on RTE 1 television, Network 2, Sky 1, Sky News, TV3 and TG 4. The Board has also placed advertisements on all national and major local radio stations. The Board held 12 information days throughout England in 2004 as well as placing advertisements in Sunday newspapers, daily newspapers and publications aimed specifically at the Irish community as well as distributing 7,500 leaflets and 7,500 pamphlets to the network of Irish Societies. The Board has also placed adverts in all Irish daily newspapers and selected papers in the U.K. highlighting each Ministerial Order which added institutions to the schedule to the Redress Act. This month the Board has also placed advertisements in the main Irish newspapers, selected United Kingdom publications and Irish publications in the U.S.A. and Australia. In total the Board has placed 1,492 advertisements.

 

 

In addition the Department of Foreign Affairs has, at the request of the Board, sent information on the role and functions of the Board, as well as highlighting the closing date for receipt of applications, to its embassies asking them to forward this information to all relevant Irish bodies with whom they have contact.

 

The Board's web-site has been in operation for three years and is used as the conduit for newsletters, statements and media releases and includes all relevant information on the Board such as the Act of 2002, the Regulations, the guides to the scheme and more. The web-site received almost 5,000 visits in October.

 

 

This campaign, the Board's newsletters, annual reports and subsequent media reports have ensured that the Board retains a high public profile. In addition the various controversies involving the Board have further raised the profile of the process, as has the frequency with which the Board is mentioned on talk and news programmes on both radio and television as well as in the Oireachtas. The Board is also aware that there continues to be extensive advertising by third parties here in Ireland as well as abroad which has served to inform people of its existence. This advertising has been predominantly in the print media.

 

As a result of the foregoing the Board is satisfied that it has fulfilled its mandate in relation to informing potential applicants of its existence and functions. Nonetheless it would welcome any practical suggestions as to how it could inform other potential applicants who may not be aware of its functions.

 

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