Thursday, December 24, 2009

Call for probe into abuse groups funding

THE head of the Irish Survivors of Child Abuse (SOCA) group has written to Taoiseach Brian Cowen calling for an inquiry into the financing of all survivor groups over the past 10 years.

In his letter, John Kelly states that, following recent revelations in the Irish Examiner on the activities of Noel C Barry and his Right of Place organisation in Cork, SOCA was alarmed at how substantial sums of public money have been used to finance such an unrepresentative group for the past 10 years.

"It is now clear that whilst receiving enormous sums of taxpayers’ money from various departments of Government Mr Barry was the happy recipient of Church largesse, the full extent of which is unknown," he said.

In his letter, sent yesterday, Mr Kelly reminds the Taoiseach that on June 3 at Government Buildings in discussions on the matter of additional contributions from the religious orders, Mr Barry took great trouble to advise him that the Church had "contributed enough" to redressing the victims of the institutions.

"It was entirely improper of him not to have disclosed his financial affairs with Church bodies which we must presume to have been an ongoing feature of his dealings with civil and public servants over the years," the letter states.

Mr Kelly goes on to raise concerns about other survivor groups and how they have been funded and claims questions over accountability must be answered.

"Therefore and in order to clear up any lingering doubts, Irish-SOCA propose that Government establish a proper inquiry into the financing of all victim support groups over the past 10 years.

"Such an inquiry would be to examine all aspects and sources of funding," the letter adds.

SOCA’s London-based spokesman, Patrick Walsh, said it was not acceptable that public money was handed out without proper checks and balances in place to see how it was spent.

Mr Walsh said there seemed to be lack of "proper invigilation" on behalf of the Government.

He said given the apparent withdrawal of HSE funding from Right of Place it was now the time to look at all the funding other groups had received and how it had been managed.

The Department of Education said it had requested funding proposals for 2010 from all the survivors’ groups. including Right of Place.

These requests for funding would be all considered in due course.

A spokesperson for the department said it was aware of the internal difficulties at Right of Place.

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