Thursday, October 24, 2013

Quinn orders abuse fund to destroy reports on survivors

https://encrypted-tbn2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQm98RWaoOD4OlqjcLOUxGlgwrUfNkUj9Hfefykd6Ty_fsVqXusEDUCATION Minister Ruairi Quinn has ordered the state body in charge of a €110m fund for victims of institutional abuse to destroy internal reports following an embarrassing gaffe.

The move follows a major row between survivors and the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund (RISF) after officials there breached strict rules governing the use of abuse victims' personal data.

The fund was set up earlier this year to administer money pledged by religious congregations to support the needs of 15,000 survivors of institutional abuse.

But objections were raised when the RISF used data supplied by the Redress Board, a previous compensation scheme for victims of institutional abuse, to analyse gender, age and geographical patterns of survivors.

The use of the data in this way is not allowed under the legislation setting up the fund and Mr Quinn has confirmed that the material is now being destroyed.

The Survivors of Child Abuse (SOCA) support group said it feared that people in different parts of the country would be treated differently if such data analysis was allowed.

ASSESSMENTS

Spokesman Patrick Walsh said: "It is the deeply held fear of survivors that a scheme is being fashioned based on people's gender, age and geographical location.

"The survivors don't want that. We want a level playing field, where assessments are made on need alone."

The RISF was allowed access to records giving the names, addresses and date of birth of abuse survivors who had previously received compensation from the Redress Board.

Mr Quinn said this information could only be used by the RISF to determine a person's eligibility to make an application to the fund.

He said a RISF board meeting had been supplied with "a very preliminary analysis of the data", but that this was now being destroyed.

"Following discussions with my department, the RISF has confirmed the information received from the Redress Board will only be used for the purpose set out in the Act and that the information is held securely," said Mr Quinn.

The RISF did not respond to requests for comment.

A spokesman for Mr Quinn said the RISF board had his full confidence.

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