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Irish Survivors information
Irish in Britain recognises that Britain is home to significant numbers of survivors from institutions in Ireland: 37 percent of those who gave evidence to the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse (CICA) lived in Britain compared to 58 percent of presentations from Ireland (Higgins 2010). These survivors have an average age of 69 years old.
Irish in Britain has asked that a cross–departmental approach to the welfare of survivors extends beyond Ireland especially to Britain because so many survivors live here and we have also requested equivalence for survivors based in Britain in any proposed provision or consideration of ongoing and future needs.
The CICA was established in 1999 and reported in 2009. The report estimated that in the period from 1936 to 1970, a total of 170,000 children and young persons (involving about 1.2 percent of the age cohort) entered the gates of the 50 or so industrial schools in the Irish Republic. Grounds of entry included poverty, being “needy”, death of parents, involvement in a criminal offence or school non–attendance.
Through meetings with Irish welfare and support organisations within our membership the evidence suggests significant populations of survivors in London, Manchester and Birmingham with smaller numbers dispersed across Britain.
The commission heard 1,090 witness reports. More than 50 percent first admitted under the age of five years, 90 percent reported physical abuse and 50 percent reported sexual abuse. Neglect was also common, often in the context of abuse. The Irish state initially envisaged a compensation scheme would follow the work of the Commission. During the early stages of the commission, it became clear that the investigation Committee would not be able to function unless a compensation scheme was initiated. The Irish government decided to proceed with the establishment of a Redress Board. The Redress Board was set up under the Residential Institutions Redress Act 2002, to make “fair and reasonable awards to persons, who as children, were abused in industrial schools, reformatories and other institutions subject to state regulation and inspection”. Between 2002 and 2012, the Board processed more than 15,000 applications.
The Residential Institutions Statutory Fund was established in March 2013 and became known as Caranua later that year. Caranua is an independent state body set up to help people who, as children, experienced abuse in residential institutions in Ireland and have received settlements, Redress Board or Court awards. Caranua oversees the use of funds of €110 million pledged by the religious congregations who had been responsible for running the institutions. It is due to close in August 2019.
Many of our members provide a range of support services for survivors including supporting access to housing services, benefits advice etc although a number have reported concerns that their staff members feel ill–equipped to deal with the presentation of often complex needs. This is of concern given the absence of any dedicated welfare services for survivors in Britain. Survivors are an ageing population and many in Britain report poor physical health including mobility problems, long–term conditions including cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
Awareness of the existence of, or needs of, survivors is low amongst British mainstream statutory services and many survivors struggle to engage with much needed health care and wraparound services.
Updates on issues relating to Mother and Baby Homes
Minister Katherine Zappone launched a grant scheme to support commemorative events related to Mother and Child Institutions and County Homes in March 2020. Read more here.
In June 2020, the Commission of Investigation (Mother and Baby Homes and certain related Matters) issued the Seventh Interim Report to Minister Zappone. However, due to the effects of Covid–19, the Government agreed to a request from the Commission for an extension of four months to allow it to complete its final report. The report is now due to be delivered on 30 October 2020.
Dr Geoffrey Shannon’s Report on the Collection of Tuam Survivors’ DNA was published on 11 September 2019. You can download it here.
Connect Counselling is an organisation based in Ireland that offers a freephone service: 00800 477 477 77.
’Connect is a free telephone counselling and support service for any adult who has experienced abuse, trauma or neglect in childhood. You can talk in confidence with a trained counsellor who can listen or help with questions you have.’
My Data Rights works to help survivors of Irish industrial and reformatory schools use the GDPR in order to gain access to their personal information. The website contains downloadable guides and template letters for requesting personal data and for complaining to the Data Protection Commission if necessary.
This is a project of the Human Rights Law Clinic at the Irish Centre for Human Rights, NUI Galway.