Caranua Financial Statements 2017

Ms Rachel Downes (Chief Executive Officer, Caranua) called and examined.

We are meeting with Caranua about its financial statements for 2017. We are joined by Ms Rachel Downes, chief executive officer of Caranua. She is very welcome to this first meeting in her role as chief executive officer. We are also joined by Mr. David O'Callaghan, chairperson, Ms Sinéad Dwyer, director of services, and Mr. Michael Fitzpatrick, director of finance and corporate governance. From the Department of Education and Skills, we are joined by Ms Aoife Conduit, Ms Catherine Hynes, Mr. Aongus Ó hAonghusa and Ms Ann Gorman. I remind members, witnesses and those in the Public Gallery that all mobile phones should be switched off or put to airplane mode. Merely putting them onto silent will still interfere with the recording system.

I advise witnesses that by virtue of section 17(2)(l) of the Defamation Act 2009, they are protected by absolute privilege in respect of their evidence to this committee. However, if they are directed to cease giving evidence on a particular matter and continue to so do, they are entitled thereafter only to qualified privilege in respect of their evidence. They are directed that only evidence connected with the subject matter of these proceedings is to be given and asked to respect the parliamentary practice to the effect that, where possible, they should not criticise nor make charges against any person, persons or entity by name or in such a way as to make him, her or it identifiable. Members are reminded of the provisions of Standing Order 186 that they shall refrain from inquiring into the merits of a policy or policies of the Government or a Minister of the Government or the merits of the objectives of such policy. While we expect witnesses to answer questions put by the committee members clearly and with candour, witnesses can and should expect to be treated fairly and with respect and consideration at all times, in accordance with the witness protocol.

I ask the Comptroller and Auditor General, Mr. Seamus McCarthy, to make his opening statement.

Mr. Seamus McCarthy

The Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Board, better known as Caranua, was established in March 2013 under the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Act 2012. Caranua is responsible for overseeing the use of substantial funds pledged by a number of religious congregations to support the needs of survivors of residential institutional child abuse. The Act provides that the funds received from the religious congregations were to be used to pay grants to survivors in order that they may avail of approved services. The types of approved services for which grant funding is available are housing support services, health and well-being services and education, learning and development services. The Act also permits the use of the fund to pay for expenditure incurred by Caranua in the performance of its functions.

The financial statements for Caranua before the committee today relate to the financial year 2017. At December 2017, cash contributions amounting to €101 million had been received into the fund. Interest earned on deposits amounted to €321,000. As at 31 December 2017, the status of the amounts received was as follows: €66.8 million had been paid out by way of grants to survivors of residential institutional child abuse; €7.6 million had been used to fund Caranua’s administration costs and there was a net balance of €26.9 million remaining in the fund. Caranua’s expenditure in 2017 totalled just over €17 million. Almost €15 million was expended in respect of grants to survivors. This included €10.7 million on housing-related grants and €3.7 million on health-related grants. Administration expenditure charged to the fund in 2017 amounted to €2.06 million.

My audit report in respect of Caranua’s financial statements for 2017 draws attention to the statement on internal control, which discloses weaknesses in the board’s control over grant payments, which created a risk that in some cases grant expenditure might not be used for the purposes intended. During the audit of the 2017 financial statements, sample-based examination of the controls over grant payments found that: evidence was not available in respect of 56% of the sample cases examined that required pricing quotations were received by the board in advance of grant payment; evidence was not available in respect of around 50% of the sample grants examined that required invoices and receipts had been presented following payment of grants and; evidence was not available in respect of 55% of a sample of housing support grants examined that claimants had provided the required proof of property tenancy or ownership. These grant control findings are similar to those of previous years’ audits, to which I had also drawn attention. The statement on internal control sets out the steps being taken by the board to resolve the control weaknesses identified. Fieldwork on the audit of Caranua’s draft 2018 financial statements has been completed. I expect that the financial statements will be certified in the coming weeks.

Ms Rachel Downes

I thank the Chairman and the committee for giving Caranua the opportunity to come before it today to discuss the 2017 financial statements. Caranua was established in 2013 as the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Board, under the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Act 2012. Caranua is responsible for the management of a limited fund to improve the quality of life of people who, as children, experienced abuse and neglect in institutions and who have received an award or settlement as referred to in the Residential Institutions Redress Act 2002. To date, €106.9 million has been received from the religious congregations and an additional €1.38 million in interest. There is just over €3 million outstanding in contributions, which is expected to be received in full by December 2019.

Caranua commenced accepting applications in January 2014. Since then, Caranua has received applications from 6,543 people. Of these, 5,987 were survivors who were eligible to apply for funding supports. By the end of September 2019, Caranua had made over 54,000 funding supports payments to the value of €91.3 million. At 30 September, the highest area of provision of funding supports was home improvements at €65.1 million, followed by health at €24.5 million, education at €1.4 million and exceptional needs support at €0.28 million. In carrying out its function, Caranua has tried to distribute the fund provided in the fairest way possible to all eligible survivors. The legislation sets out that all operational costs must be met from the fund. To the end of September, €11.5 million has been spent on operations. The board of Caranua and management have worked determinedly to minimise operational costs and continue to do so during the wind-down phase.

As part of enhanced reporting, we have improved our accountability and transparency through our monthly updates on our website. Our website has information on board minutes, monthly updates on applications and spend, information on complaints and feedback from survivors and other news items are published regularly. Caranua has to strike a balance between working with survivors in a person-centred and compassionate manner and our obligations as a public body with regards to our fiduciary responsibilities. While at times the process can be seen by some survivors as too bureaucratic, it has been necessary for Caranua to respond to the findings of the Comptroller and Auditor General.

Following recommendations of the 2017 audit, we invested a lot of time reviewing and improving our internal policies and procedures, aiming to combat the issues raised, while still focusing on delivering an accessible and person-centred service for survivors. Since the beginning of 2018, our internal controls are reviewed at every board meeting and actions are implemented and updated at the following meeting. Our risk register is also reviewed at every audit and risk committee meeting and updates are provided at each board meeting. Since December 2018, Caranua has been at 100% compliance with the code of practice for the governance of State bodies. The board of Caranua has established a wind-down committee to manage the orderly wind-down of Caranua. This committee met the representative of the Department of Education and Skills tasked with drafting the wind-down legislation required. The committee will continue to engage with the Department.

In order to combat discrepancies between the confidential payment system and the case management system, a complete change of practice was undertaken in 2018. Monthly reconciliations are now undertaken and a full report from 2018 shows the two systems are now fully reconciled. Public procurement guidelines are complied with in all instances of purchasing goods and services since 2018. For purchases prior to 2018, where the guidelines were not complied with or documentation was not retained, we have undertaken a process of market testing to ensure value for money. As Caranua is currently in wind-down, a decision was made not to re-tender for the existing suppliers. Since September 2018, we have introduced purchase requisition order documents. Evidence of tax clearance certificates are now obtained for all relevant suppliers. On travel and subsistence claims, supporting documentation is obtained for all claims made. The rate of subsistence for staff is in line with Government circulars.

On prepayment documents, a simplified acceptable quotations document is provided to survivors so they are aware in advance of the standard of quotation required for audit purposes. We have also introduced additional internal checks to ensure the paperwork is of the required standard prior to payment. We implemented a best effort approach with regard to post-payment requirements. During the course of their application, the application advisers ask that survivors send in their receipts for all funding supports received. In addition, we wrote to survivors requesting return of any outstanding receipts from 2018. Caranua has received 66% of receipts from funding supports made during 2018. While this may seem like a straightforward task, receiving the letters was upsetting for some survivors as they felt we did not trust them, which was not the case at all. It can be a challenge to meet both the needs of survivors and the audit recommendations.

Our 2018 audited accounts are currently with the Comptroller and Auditor General and we hope to have them finalised in the coming weeks. As Caranua operates with a limited fund, which is now nearly expended, we are nearing the end of our remit and are currently in the process of winding down the organisation. On 31 May 2018, the board of Caranua announced the decision to cease taking new or repeat applications from 1 August 2018. As legislation prevents Caranua from making first contact with survivors, we were dependent on raising awareness of the cessation date through a variety of methods, including outreach events, poster campaigns, media advertising, word of mouth and working with survivor support and other stakeholder groups.

As a result of this work, Caranua received 289 applications between 1 May and 1 August 2018. After 2 August 2018, Caranua received 378 applications. Except for in exceptional circumstances, Caranua has not provided funding supports to these survivors, but we have offered advocacy supports and some survivors have availed of them. In the past 18 months, Caranua has adopted a targeted approach to outreach events by focusing on a number of specific survivor groups, including survivors who required additional supports in managing their applications and those who had received limited or no funding supports. This targeted approach has proven to have excellent results, as survivors are provided with an opportunity to discuss their applications in person with their application advisers.

I will outline some examples of our outreach work. More than 100 survivors have opted to come to Caranua's offices for meetings with their application advisers. Outreach days have been organised in conjunction with the Christine Buckley Centre for Education and Support, Right of Place, the Cork Deaf Association and in the UK with the Cáirde survivors group, the Coventry Irish Society and the Disabled Survivors Support Network. Caranua commenced a programme of outreach for survivors in prisons across Ireland. In addition, 2019 marked the 20th anniversary of the State apology to survivors and the tenth anniversary of the publication of the Ryan report. I was delighted that the Christine Buckley Centre for Education and Support invited Caranua, along other survivor support and counselling services, to join the organising committee to plan two events to mark the anniversaries. We organised a conference, Facing the future together - Ireland's lifelong responsibility to the survivors of institutional abuse, on 11 May in Trinity College. In the afternoon, a celebration event was held for survivors.

Through our work, we have found that social isolation is an issue for a number of survivors. Many survivors contact Caranua on a regular basis for a chat as this communication is the only social contact they have. Survivors outside of Ireland often mention that Caranua is their only link with Ireland. We aim to assist survivors by linking them with survivor support groups and other organisations that may be able to offer support and befriending services in the longer term.

While working in Caranua, I have had the privilege of meeting and working with some of the most resilient and empowered survivors and I have also met survivors who are still very much impacted by their childhood experiences who will require supports for the foreseeable future. Caranua will continue to work in support of survivors until our closure. I thank the Chairperson and the members for their attention. We are happy to answer any questions that the committee may wish to raise.

I thank Ms Downes. The speakers have indicated in the following sequence. The first speaker will be Deputy Connolly. She will have 20 minutes. The second will be Deputy Munster and she will have 15. The other speakers, Deputies Cullinane, Catherine Murphy, MacSharry and O'Connell, will have ten minutes each.

Cuirim fáilte roimh na daoine a bhí anseo cheana agus roimh Ms Rachel Downes, atá anseo don chéad uair. Our guests are very welcome. Ms Downes was not here before, but the board has been here. I thank her for the briefing documents and the financial accounts. I have read them all. It was indicated on the risk register that money was still outstanding from the Christian Brothers. Is that still on the risk register? Yes or no.

Ms Rachel Downes

It is. It will be downgraded.

That is okay. It is still on the risk register. I imagine it is very difficult for the board to make decisions because it does not know how much money it has. What has the Department said about when Caranua will get the money? What is the total amount outstanding?

Ms Rachel Downes

Just over €3 million is due at this stage.

Is it exactly €3 million?

Ms Aoife Conduit

It is €3.3 million.

Was it due last May? It was due at various stages. When will it be handed over?

Ms Aoife Conduit

In November and December. A schedule of payments has been agreed with the Christian Brothers.

Has Caranua come to an agreement? Is it with the Christian Brothers predominantly or is there anybody else involved?

Ms Aoife Conduit

No, it is just the Christian Brothers.

The sum of €3.3 million has been outstanding for quite some time. Is it correct that the agreement goes back to 2009?

Ms Aoife Conduit

That is right. Yes.

From 2009 to 2019 is a period of ten years. Is it correct that Caranua has agreed a schedule of payments with the Christian Brothers and that will be done in November and December?

Ms Aoife Conduit

We received €3.6 million in the past six weeks and there are two further payments to be made, one at the beginning of November and one at the beginning of December.

Will that be it? Will the Christian Brothers be paying more to Caranua than is needed in order to comply with the legislation?

Ms Aoife Conduit

That is right.

Is the excess going to the national children's hospital?

Ms Aoife Conduit

That is right.

Is there something else as well?

Ms Aoife Conduit

The sum of €430,000 will be going to the children's hospital. Caranua can have an upper limit of €110 million plus the interest accrued.

I understand all that. Caranua gets up to €110 million plus the interest.

Ms Aoife Conduit

That is right. It is €1.38 million.

And the other surplus from the Christian Brothers is going to the national children's hospital.

Ms Aoife Conduit

That is right.

Why did it take so long?

Ms Aoife Conduit

The Christian Brothers had said that some of the money was contingent on the sale of lands at Clonkeen and there was a significant delay.

Did the Department discuss with the board the difficulties created by the fact that it did not have the total amount and could not plan?

Ms Aoife Conduit

Yes, the Department regularly meets the board under the performance delivery agreement. There were three meetings this year. Three meetings were held on an annual basis.

I saw all that. My question is how the board and the Department handled that difficulty when they did not know how much money they had. Caranua is in a wind-up situation and it is only getting the money now.

Mr. David O’Callaghan

Perhaps I could assist. As chairman of the board, I was directly involved in that. It is true that there were moneys outstanding and I wrote to the Minister at the time in May 2018. We were concerned at that stage but we have got reassurances since. We never reached a situation where we ran out of money.

That is okay. I understand that.

Mr. David O’Callaghan

That is why I put it at the top of the risk register.

I am glad he did. I have recognised that. I have read the minutes. I saw that it was discussed and that the board took it seriously. It was a very sensible thing to do, but it is not a good way in which to have to run an organisation. I am not getting a clear answer as to why the money was not paid over beforehand. In any case, that is fine.

My questions to Ms Downes are not personal in any way. The salary and administration costs are all set out. Was there a period when two CEOs were being paid? Can anyone respond to me on that? Did it ever happen that two CEOs were being paid at the same time; the acting CEO and the non-acting CEO.

Ms Rachel Downes

There would have been a short period of overlap.

What period of overlap?

Ms Rachel Downes

It would have been for two months, from October to December.

So for two months, two CEOs, one acting and one not acting, were paid.

Ms Rachel Downes

One was on sick leave.

I am not going into the personal details. I reassure Ms Downes of that. This arose previously. It is none of my business. What is my business is value for money. For a period of two months, two salaries were paid to two CEOs, one acting and one not acting, for various reasons.

Ms Aoife Conduit

Just to clarify, there was no additional salary being paid to the acting CEO during that period.

I did not ask that question. I asked if two salaries were being paid. Perhaps Ms Downes might come back to me when the confusion has been clarified. It is a very specific question about an acting CEO and a non-acting CEO. I am not making any comment on it.

Mr. David O’Callaghan

Again, perhaps I could offer to assist.

I want just a "Yes" or "No" answer that I require.

Mr. David O’Callaghan

We will send Deputy Connolly a note.

I want just a "Yes" or"No" answer as to whether two salaries were being paid for whatever reason. It is very simple. I am not going into the reasons. The board can come back before the end of the session to indicate whether two salaries were being paid. Mr. O'Callaghan might get that.

Ms Rachel Downes

We will come back.

Are there any board vacancies at the moment?

Ms Rachel Downes

Not at this time.

Was there a new appointment?

Ms Rachel Downes

There were two. Mr. Michael Fitzpatrick is our new director of finance.

How long has Mr. Fitzpatrick been in situ?

Mr. Michael Fitzpatrick

Eight weeks.

He is very welcome.

Mr. Michael Fitzpatrick

I thank Deputy Connolly.

Was there a period of time with no financial director?

Ms Rachel Downes

Not since I have been CEO.

After dealing with the board, I will move on to questions specifically relating to the accounts. The board is in a wind-down situation. I will come back to what that means in terms of accountability when I inquire about the accounts. Perhaps Mr. O'Callaghan might clarify in due course if there will be a board to come before us for the 2018 accounts and the 2019 accounts. How do we manage that accountability? When does he envisage that the board will be gone?

Mr. David O'Callaghan

I would say June 2020 at the latest, but I am perfectly happy to come back. It is my duty to come back if asked by this committee to answer in respect of the 2018 and 2019 accounts.

I thank Mr. O'Callaghan. I appreciate that. We might discuss it later, Chairman. We need a board so we have accountability to ask about those accounts. Perhaps that is something we can decide. Mr. O'Callaghan envisages the board being gone in 2020.

Mr. David O’Callaghan

Yes.

It was noted in the context of the accounts that it should have been a wonderful and positive news story that there was €110 million to give out. I will not go back over that matter because I am here to discuss the accounts. However, there have been many problems with the administration of the fund. Does Mr. O'Callaghan accept that?

Mr. David O’Callaghan

There were problems in the early days. There is no question about it, but I am very happy with the service we are providing.

Absolutely, but this was under legislation from 2012 and the first payments were only made from January 2014 onwards. There were many difficulties in the administration. Mr. O'Callaghan accepted that previously.

Mr. David O’Callaghan

I have, yes indeed. Does Deputy Connolly remember that we did not open for business until 2014. I was not there at the time.

Absolutely. I have no interest in personalising anything.

Mr. David O’Callaghan

That is all right. I know.

I am looking at a board administering €110 million, which is a very positive news story, and how that came to pass.

There were certainly major problems. Mr. O'Callaghan might not agree but he is agreeing there were certain problems.

Mr. David O'Callaghan

There were problems in the earlier days; there is no question about that.

Let me quote the Comptroller and Auditor General. The background to this, of course, concerned the previous redress board and all the money. I am subject to correction but I believe the estimated cost of the previous redress board and commission of investigation was €1.5 billion. I am sure the Comptroller and Auditor General produced many reports but I am referring to the one from 2015. My point is for him and also the Department. Page 11 of the summary sets out the setting up of a redress scheme. It is stated that lessons learned should be identified, in addition to improvements that could be applied to any future redress scheme. Redress cost €110 million and we were supposed to have learned lessons.

Mr. David O'Callaghan

To what document is the Deputy referring?

I am referring to the Comptroller and Auditor General's chapter on-----

Mr. Seamus McCarthy

The special report.

It is from 2016.

I am not going to quote it but about what was recommended as a learning exercise prior to what we are talking about. It is stated the design of any scheme should be "to reduce litigation costs", in particular. Reference is also made to "accountability arrangements". This is very important and highlighted. Reference is also made to "expenditure forecasting methodology", to which we will come back. I am referring to the forecasting of expenditure over time. Also mentioned is "effectiveness in meeting intended objectives and outcomes". Did anyone look at those recommendations at board level from day one to determine how improvements could be made?

Mr. David O'Callaghan

On the four recommendations, the first was to reduce litigation costs. What were the others?

Accountability arrangements, expenditure forecasting methodology, and effectiveness in meeting intended objectives and outcomes.

Mr. David O'Callaghan

I was not there at the start so I cannot answer the Deputy's question on whether they were considered in setting up Caranua but I can tell her litigation has been kept to a minimum. There has been very little.

How many cases are pending?

Ms Rachel Downes

None.

No cases pending. There is no notice of any litigation or letter to that effect.

Ms Rachel Downes

No. There is no litigation at all at the moment.

Has there been litigation?

Ms Rachel Downes

Most recently eight cases were taken against the independent appeals officer. Caranua joined as a notice party because any outcome may affect its operations.

Is that case ongoing or finished?

Ms Rachel Downes

It would have been completed in May 2019.

Mr. David O'Callaghan

The judge found in our favour.

Ms Rachel Downes

It was in relation to the authority of the board to implement the 2016 guidelines.

I understand that was a settlement. I understand there was an agreement in relation to the-----

Mr. David O'Callaghan

There was a judgment.

Ms Rachel Downes

No. There would have been a previous case, which concerned the independent appeals officer to Caranua. Unfortunately, our only recourse under the legislation if we do not agree with a decision of the independent appeals officer is to take a High Court case.

What are the two cases?

Ms Rachel Downes

There was a case in 2017 in which Caranua appealed a decision of the independent appeals officer. Following that, eight survivors took a case against the independent appeals officer and Caranua joined as a notice party. That was resolved in May 2019.

Was the original case about the limit being set?

Ms Rachel Downes

Yes.

And the payments prior to that limit being set were now being taken into the count.

Ms Rachel Downes

Correct.

That had not been set out clearly at all in the criteria, according to the appeals officer.

Ms Rachel Downes

That is what the appeals officer felt but when he actually looked into it and took legal advice, it was found that it actually was set out.

I am sorry but that is not correct. What is correct is that there was a settlement and the appeals officer acknowledged, under legal advice, that the previous payments had to be taken into account.

Ms Rachel Downes

I suppose that led to the next case, in which the judge found that was correct.

The criteria were not set out clearly for applicants. When the cap was set, applicants were not aware of them, nor were they told at that point. It is a matter of accountability.

Ms Rachel Downes

I think the applicants would have been told. As I said-----

I think they were not.

Ms Rachel Downes

Every applicant, when working with Caranua, works with an application adviser. Applicants would have that relationship and that conversation would have been taking place all the time.

This occurred prior to Ms Downes' time. What she said is not accurate. There were many problems and the appeals officer was quite strong. In the end, the matter was settled. The point I am making is that accountability was absent in that clear criteria were not set out. Mr. O'Callaghan is fully aware of this because it was dealt with on the last occasion, at the previous relevant meeting of the Committee of Public Accounts.

Mr. David O'Callaghan

The judge found in our favour. The judge found that we were quite entitled to change the criteria. That was the core item.

First of all, the judge did not find it was in agreement. I am not going into the specifics of the case. The point I am making is that the appeals officer agreed with the board in the end, in an agreed settlement. Before Ms Downes was involved, a cap was set.

Mr. David O'Callaghan

That is right.

Applicants were not told clearly that the previous payments would be taken into account. That is the point I am making.

Ms Rachel Downes

That is why they then got a letter notifying them of that.

With regard to letters Ms Downes mentioned, when letters are sent out to tell an applicant his or her application is valid or otherwise, is it set out clearly that there is an appeals mechanism?

Ms Rachel Downes

Yes, every letter sets it out clearly. Applicants also get an attached leaflet with information.

Let me ask the question. Ms Downes will be aware of the background to this. The reason I am asking my question is that what was described was not happening and caused great distress.

Ms Rachel Downes

There was a case in 2016, yes.

There were quite a number of cases. It did not happen so Caranua had to change its practice. The practice has changed to the extent that every single person who applies and whose application is deemed either valid or not valid gets a letter setting out that he or she can appeal the decision and how to appeal it.

Ms Rachel Downes

Yes.

I thank Ms Downes.

With regard to page 29 of the accounts, I wish to ask a few practical questions. I am sure Ms Downes will be able to clear this up quickly. Cancelled payments recoverable comprise quite a sizeable sum. Could Ms Downes explain what that means?

Ms Rachel Downes

This is one of the complexities of Caranua. We provide numerous funding supports on an annual basis. We find that, on average, about €2 million in funding supports actually come back to Caranua again, including through cancellation. A survivor may choose not to go ahead with a certain supplier or may decide, for one reason or another, that he or she no longer wants the service. It can also happen that the cheques provided go out of date. There is a huge-----

Does Caranua have a breakdown of the cancelled payments?

Ms Rachel Downes

We have that. We keep that on our system.

The Chair might get that for us.

Ms Rachel Downes

I will check what level of detail exists. Obviously, some of the data are quite personal. What level is required?

The Chair might take a note of this. We might come back to it and decide before the end of the meeting.

I am trying to establish the position on these cancelled payments. Might they be where somebody got a cheque for €1,000 or €15,000 but did not spend it, for one reason or another?

Ms Rachel Downes

That could be the case, yes.

How many of them died?

Ms Rachel Downes

I am not be aware of that.

Does Ms Downes have a breakdown? It is a very sizeable sum and its not being spent should be a very positive story.

Ms Rachel Downes

To clarify, what usually happens is that the money goes back out again. Most of the money, while it would come back to Caranua, would be reissued to the same survivor.

It would be recycled.

Ms Rachel Downes

Yes, to the same survivor or to another, depending on what is needed.

No, let us be clear. I am talking about the person who gets the money, not about recycling to somebody else.

Ms Rachel Downes

That would be usual as well.

Very good. Ms Downes will have a breakdown for us. She will be able to see how many people-----

Ms Rachel Downes

The information we could provide is what we call cancel-and-reissue information. Cheques are sent back to us for cancellation and then reissued.

At this moment, can Ms Downes tell me how many-----

Ms Rachel Downes

I do not have that information.

If I said €400,000 or €100,000 was not spent, we would not know at this point whether------

Ms Rachel Downes

I do not have that information. We could provide it, though.

It is important, given the length of time it took to process applications. Would that have been considered?

Ms Rachel Downes

Regarding the cancel-and-reissue cases?

Ms Rachel Downes

I will outline what we do to make sure that does not happen on a monthly basis. Obviously, cheques go out of date on a six-monthly basis. Every month, a member of our finance team looks at any cheques that have gone out of date and the survivor in question is contacted to find out why it happened. We do that on an ongoing basis monthly.

The breakdown would be very important.

I have a practical question. The 2017 accounts were signed off on 13 December 2018. Is that normal? Why did it take a year to-----

Ms Rachel Downes

There was a delay.

Why was there a delay?

Ms Rachel Downes

There was a combination of factors, the main one being sick leave.

Ms Rachel Downes

There was a combination; sick leave was the main area, to be honest.

When would Ms Downes have expected those to come before the board as a matter of good practice?

Ms Rachel Downes

I can only speak for this year, in that the accounts were with the Comptroller and Auditor General by the February date which is assigned.

That is what is important, is that right?

Mr. Seamus McCarthy

We have the financial statements for 2018.

Where did the delay arise in respect of the December meeting of the board approving it?

Ms Rachel Downes

It was not necessarily that it was delayed at board, I think it was just an internal delay, unfortunately.

Ms Downes will have to clarify for me.

Ms Rachel Downes

Sick leave unfortunately delayed the accounts for that year.

Again I do not want to go into a personal matter but the previous year, when did the accounts come before the board?

Ms Rachel Downes

I do not have that information in front of me.

Does Mr. O'Callaghan have it?

Mr. David O'Callaghan

As far as I know, they were on time.

They were on time? What time was that?

Mr. David O'Callaghan

I do not have that information.

Somebody should have it really, it is financial.

Mr. David O'Callaghan

It is obviously back in the office.

Ms Rachel Downes

What I can say is that we have acknowledged past mistakes in respect of that and we have worked extremely hard to ensure-----

Just one second. Would the Comptroller and Auditor General have any knowledge of this?

Mr. Seamus McCarthy

I do not have the detail with me but I can certainly get it for the Deputy.

The delay was not on the side of the Comptroller and Auditor General.

Mr. Seamus McCarthy

Partly it probably is because we do not get to all the financial statements when they are submitted to us. Caranua has been providing us with the draft financial statements.

So I am being a bit unfair.

Mr. Seamus McCarthy

We only get to them in the second half of the year so there could be delays. Once we carry out the audit fieldwork, if there are supplementary queries there may be a bit of to and fro while the matter is being dealt with. Once we clear them, the financial statements go back to the board.

I thank the Comptroller and Auditor General. That is clarified. When he is given the note, the Chair might clarify when the previous financial statements were presented to the board.

Ms Rachel Downes

Is the Deputy asking in respect of 2016?

I would suggest someone here might look up the financial statements on the Caranua website now. That question can be answered in five minutes. Is there a staff member who can do that?

Ms Rachel Downes

We will find that.

That can happen now in a few short minutes.

On page 5 of the accounts, at the bottom, it is stated that the board commenced a self-evaluation of board effectiveness, an evaluation review, in December 2017, which was to be completed in 2018. Was it completed, is it available and what was the cost?

Ms Rachel Downes

There is no cost, it is part of the code of governance for State bodies.

The board evaluated itself.

Ms Rachel Downes

It is a self-evaluation as part of the code, yes.

Is self-evaluation part of it? Did the board evaluate itself or was there an outside influence?

Ms Rachel Downes

There was not an outside influence.

Was there any cost?

Ms Rachel Downes

No.

When was it published? When was it completed in 2018?

Ms Rachel Downes

It is an annual piece of work that is done so-----

Can Ms Downes just answer? I am sorry but the Chair will be stopping me and I just want to ask a number of questions.

Ms Rachel Downes

No problem.

It is stated here on page 5 that it was to be completed in 2018. When was it completed in 2018, is it available, what showed up on it and what did the board learn from it?

Mr. David O'Callaghan

I am not sure when it was completed, it is just part of the normal governance of the board in accordance with the 2016 guidelines. It is done annually. I am not sure when it was done.

This is an important thing, effectiveness and evaluation. Organisations do it and learn from it and highlight what is good and what is bad. Caranua can share that with us. Over the years we have seen different problems in terms of the administration of the fund by Caranua. In fact, the Comptroller and Auditor General in his opening statement refers to the weaknesses in internal control that recurred every year. I am asking a very simple question. Was the effectiveness of the board discussed at board level? What was learned?

Mr. David O'Callaghan

Certainly it would have been discussed at board level, I think under the heading of governance, which an item on the agenda of every board meeting.

All right, that is not a good enough-----

Mr. David O'Callaghan

As Ms Downes said, we are now 100% compliant with the 2016 guidelines on governance for State bodies.

Caranua may well be. Every organisation that comes in here tells us it is compliant. I am asking when it was completed, if it was discussed, and what was learned. I am not getting an answer so I am going to just leave that for the moment and go on to page 7 of the accounts. At the bottom of the page there is a reference to consultancy costs, which came up in the committee's general discussion this morning. The legal advice went up to €51,000. Why was that?

Ms Rachel Downes

There were two cases, one was an overhang from 2016, a judicial review that was taken against Caranua and the second one was in respect of the independent appeals officer, which I mentioned earlier.

The next heading is human resources. In 2016 it was €80,000 and then it went down to €16,000. What was that?

Ms Rachel Downes

In 2016 Caranua received sanction to increase its staffing numbers from ten to 24.6, I think. There was work done on that. We did not have the same output into 2017.

Does Ms Downes see that figure of €80,000? Does that refer to extra staff in 2016 or to what does it refer?

Ms Rachel Downes

No, my understanding is that there was a review done to determine the number of staff required to give an optimal service to survivors.

I do not know what Ms Downes is saying, I am sorry. What does €80,000 mean spent on HR?

Ms Rachel Downes

That was consultancy fees. This was in respect of increasing staff numbers and a proposal for that.

Just to be fair, does that mean the €80,000 went to a consultant or that it went to staff? What does that figure mean?

Ms Rachel Downes

It was not to staff, it was external.

Ms Catherine Hynes

If I may intervene, as I have been around since before Ms Downes was CEO, when Caranua started its operations it was heavily reliant on agency staff. That had issues in terms of very high turnover of staff, a lack of consistency. There were some staff who were possibly only working there for a month at a time. The quality of service that was delivered to survivors was not optimised. Caranua commissioned a firm to carry out a study on workflows, application timelines and so on to see how they could deliver an optimal service for staff. I think the human resources figure referred to for 2016 was that study.

Ms Catherine Hynes

I think so. I would have to verify that but I think that was the reason.

I would appreciate it if that could be verified.

We might verify that with a note in due course.

Ms Catherine Hynes

We can verify it with a note.

Again it is down to €16,000 in 2017. What was that for? Was it more consultancy?

Ms Rachel Downes

There was a small amount of consultancy work done and also an internal investigation piece of work that needed to be done which involved an external company.

Again, Ms Downes might get a list and breakdown of all this in due course. I do not see it here. What is business improvement?

Ms Rachel Downes

This is a piece of work that was done. The Deputy may remember that at the last committee, they were looking for improved and enhanced statistical reporting, so a piece of work was done on our case management system to allow that to happen, as well as some other small pieces.

I am thinking of the sum of €110 million that is there to go to the most vulnerable as a right once they have a valid application. Then I look at the accounts each year. I know Ms Downes is relatively new. I see business money, I see public relations.

Ms Rachel Downes

I suppose it is one of those things where we have spoken about the difficulty of balancing. At the last committee there was a lot of talk about enhancing our statistics, making statistics more available in our work. This piece of work was done to enable that to happen. It is the balancing between our operational costs and ensuring that the biggest balance goes towards services for survivors.

I want to get the details of that.

I will move on to outstanding cases. The board is going to wind down and will be gone by June, is that right?

Mr. David O'Callaghan

June at the latest.

What contingencies have been made?

Ms Rachel Downes

We are still working with about 300 survivors at this time.

How many survivors is Caranua working with?

Ms Rachel Downes

With 300.

Is it exactly 300?

Ms Rachel Downes

In the round. It is about 320.

We will give them a figure. It is very important to be precise in relation to these-----

Ms Rachel Downes

Some survivors we are working with are not necessarily getting funding supports from Caranua. We are providing advocacy services as well. For some survivors who are working with us, we are looking at other supports they may need outside Caranua.

I ask Ms Downes to stick with me for a moment. How many open applications are there to access what remains of the €110 million, plus interest?

Ms Rachel Downes

There are 317.

Are they all new applications?

Ms Rachel Downes

No, there is a combination. Some have beem open since 2014; some are new.

What is the breakdown?

Ms Rachel Downes

The majority - probably about 95% - are initial applications. Some are repeat applications, which means that the applicants have previously made an application to Caranua and that they have come back with a second.

Ms Rachel Downes

In the sense that the applications may date from 2018. We stopped taking applications from 1 August 2018. Anybody with whom we are working we were working with prior to that date.

I understand, but they are new applications.

Ms Rachel Downes

Yes, they are not repeat applications.

Therefore, 95% of them have come forward for the first time to Caranua.

Ms Rachel Downes

Yes.

What is the oldest application?

Ms Rachel Downes

We have worked with people aged 26 to 99 years.

No, the oldest-----

Ms Rachel Downes

The oldest is in his 70s. I cannot give an exact figure.

It is important to know because as time passes people are becoming more vulnerable.

Ms Rachel Downes

I agree completely.

I am sorry, but I was actually asking what was the oldest application.

Ms Rachel Downes

I do not have that exact figure, but I can find out.

It is very important as we are looking at value for money from a limited fund. We are looking for effectiveness and to have things dealt with quickly. Of the 317 new cases, what is the oldest?

Ms Rachel Downes

To put it another way, given the nature of the group of survivors, we cannot rush their applications. We need to give them time. That is why there are people with whom we have worked since 2014. They need that time and space in order to-----

I agree totally with Ms Downes, but I am focusing on Caranua's effectiveness. I understand people need time and flexibility to a certain extent, but I have a difficulty with the Comptroller and Auditor General's insistence on looking at post-work payments, receipts and so on. Of course, flexibility is needed in that regard. However, it is a simple question. Of the 317 new cases, what is the oldest application?

Ms Rachel Downes

We can get that information for the Deputy.

What is the range of payments to date?

Ms Rachel Downes

In what way?

What is the range of payments Caranua has made to each applicant? Some receive €1,000, while others receive €100,000.

Ms Rachel Downes

The average payment is about €13,500.

I did not ask that figure. I asked for the range of payments.

What is the average payment?

Ms Rachel Downes

It is €13,500.

The average payment is €13,500, but I asked Ms Downes for the range of payments.

Ms Rachel Downes

I do not understand the Deputy's question.

What are the lowest and the highest payments?

Ms Rachel Downes

I am sorry. They range from zero to €100,000. Obviously, we have had some cases that have been overturned on appeal. That drives up costs much higher than what we expected.

I am not talking about the cost but about the payments made to individuals, from the lowest to the highest. What was the highest payment made to one individual?

Ms Sinéad Dwyer

It was €100,000.

What was the lowest payment?

Ms Rachel Downes

We are probably talking about a couple of hundred euro. We are also looking at having a needs-based fund, depending on what a survivor needs. That will dictate how the application will go.

Absolutely, it should be a needs-based fund. That is why it was set up. Unfortunately, at some stage the board decided for practical reasons to cap the amounts of money, but it was done mid-term with little consultation. We have been through all of this before.

Ms Rachel Downes

There is a difficulty when one is working with people who have unlimited needs and one has a limited fund.

I do not see a difficulty at all in working with people. I see a difficulty in the administration of the fund as I have read all of the accounts and complaints. I am not putting the focus on the people who are accessing the fund, rather I am putting the focus on what is in place in terms of accountability. It seems that when the board was set up, it was obvious that there was a limited fund, a limited amount of time and that a limited number of people would come forward. All of these decisions should have been made. Going back to the chapter in the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General, there should have been learnings from the previous one and predictions about the expenses involved and what would be necessary. It seems that was not done.

Ms Sinéad Dwyer

I will come in. As Ms Downes was just saying, each application is individual. Despite there being a cap in place, there is flexibility, depending on the survivor's individual circumstances.

The flexibility came afterwards, after many complaints had been received.

Ms Sinéad Dwyer

My understanding is there has always been flexibility, but initially there was no cap in place. Therefore, we did not need to look at exceptional circumstances.

That is not my understanding from reading the reports of the appeals officer and the many representations we have received. The cap was introduced arbitrarily because the board realised it had a limited fund and it applied a limit. People were told, "You have got that amount. You cannot get any more." There were all sorts of problem, as Ms Downes knows. Letters were sent without explaining things to people. How much is left in the fund?

Ms Rachel Downes

About €5 million. The remaining fund will be about €8 million.

Will that €8 million be for the 317 new applications, plus the repeat applications?

Ms Rachel Downes

There is a combination. The majority will go towards them, but we need to carry out a review. In the piece of work we are doing we are looking at the needs of the people with whom we are working. Our intention is that there will be no money left at the end. The remaining fund needs to be distributed. That is something at which we will be looking also.

What is happening in the wind-down? Is there a wind-down committee?

Ms Rachel Downes

Yes.

Who is on the wind-down committee?

Ms Rachel Downes

Who?

Ms Rachel Downes

Is the Deputy asking for their names?

Ms Rachel Downes

Patricia Carey chairs the committee which includes Francis Treanor, Frances Harrington and Katherine Finn.

They are all board members.

Ms Rachel Downes

They are.

They form the wind-down committee.

Ms Rachel Downes

Yes.

What is the vision in the winding down? What is the plan?

Ms Rachel Downes

It is to ensure there will be a smooth transition. We make monthly projections in looking at what is left in the fund and how it is being distributed to see if there is a possibility to look at doing additional work with survivors. As part of the work, we are looking at making exceptional needs payments. A big piece is recognising that there are a number of survivors with whom we are working who will need long-term support. As I mentioned in my opening statement, at this stage there are a lot of survivors who ring us just to a chat. We are working with other groups, Alone in particular. We are looking to having a project with it and link survivors with it. Whether it is through the access services or the befriending service-----

Caranua may well be doing all of that work, but its primary purpose is to administer the fund in a fair, just and equitable manner.

Ms Rachel Downes

Yes.

Having listened to Ms Downes and read all of the stuff, it seems that has not happened on a consistent basis. We have received many representations and complaints about the fund. I am still trying to figure out how Caranua is going to use the remaining funds in a fair, consistent and equal manner. I have not heard a plan for the wind-down.

Ms Rachel Downes

The Deputy is right. Our remit is to distribute funding to survivors-----

In a fair, equal and consistent manner.

Ms Rachel Downes

Almost €91.3 million has been spent.

I have read all of that, but I am talking about the wind-down.

Ms Rachel Downes

As well as that, I appreciate the Deputy's point about complaints. It is something into which we have very much looked. I think the Deputy will agree that the number of complaints has dropped and that the number of representations has also dropped. We have tried very hard for the last couple of years in working with survivors to ensure improvements in our service.

I will come back to the complaints made in the second round of questions.

Mr. David O'Callaghan

Perhaps I might come in to address the Deputy's question directly.

Mr. O'Callaghan can do so. Because I am about to be stopped, he might also speak about the issue of rent. While he is addressing the previous question, I ask him to clarify the position the position on rent, the nature of the agreement-----

Mr. David O'Callaghan

First-----

Let me finish my question.

Mr. David O'Callaghan

First, on the wind-down-----

Please let me finish my question.

Mr. David O'Callaghan

I am sorry.

When does the agreement Caranua has with the Office of Public Works come to an end? If the board is out of business by June at the latest, when will it stop paying rent?

Ms Rachel Downes

I will take the question about the Office of Public Works. The OPW has the lease and we have an agreement with it. We will need to give six months' notice.

Has Caranua given notice?

Ms Rachel Downes

We have not, but we have met it and indicated. We have also had a conversation in which it has been indicated that as our staff members are winding down, we will be happy to co-locate or move premises, as necessary.

I do not know which of the witnesses is answering my question about the rent. I have finished, but I would really like the two questions to be answered. Mr. O'Callaghan was taking a different one. The specific question was about rent. How much is Caranua paying in rent? How much did it pay last year? How much is it paying this year? When will it be leaving the premises?

Ms Rachel Downes

In total our rent payment is €279,402 per annum.

Ms Rachel Downes

Yes.

As I said, we need to give a six-month notice period. We had that discussion with the OPW, which is aware of our circumstances.

Has Caranua given notice?

Ms Rachel Downes

We have not given notice yet. We have not needed to give notice yet but the OPW is aware. We had a meeting with it to explain our circumstances.

Mr. David O'Callaghan

With regard to the wind-down, our objective is to make sure that we use up the remaining funds - the €8 million Ms Downes referred to - and make sure they all go to our survivors. That is number one because our survivors are number one.

The other things that this committee is looking into are the nuts and bolts of winding down an organisation, such as redundancy of staff, the surrendering of the premises and archives. Things like that all have to be discussed and done in an orderly fashion. As well as that, of course, the Department will be introducing legislation to wind down the body. There is not a lot of experience of winding down a State body.

Does that require legislation?

Mr. David O'Callaghan

Yes. I gather so.

How long does that take? That is another issue.

Mr. David O'Callaghan

Sorry, I have confirmed-----

It has nothing to do with Mr. O'Callaghan.

Mr. David O'Callaghan

I share the Chairman's views on the delay in legislation generally. I have confirmed that there is nothing stopping us from spending the last of the money, surrendering the building and switching off the lights. We do not have to wait for the legislation to do that.

The average payment so far was approximately €8,000.

Ms Rachel Downes

No, the average is approximately €13,500.

How many claims has Caranua on hand?

Ms Rachel Downes

At this moment in time, we are working with just over 300 survivors.

What is the figure?

Ms Rachel Downes

It is 317.

When we multiple €13,000 by 300, we get approximately €4 million. Caranua will have €8 million in funds between now and its wind-down. Based on the cases to date, the average payment is €13,000 per case. Caranua has received 11,500 applications. Some payments will be higher than €13,000 and some will be lower. However, if the average remains roughly as it is, what will happen to the other €4 million?

Ms Rachel Downes

This is something we are looking at at the moment as part of the wind-down committee's work. We are hoping to look at other survivors who may still need supports. Our intention is that we will not hand any moneys back at the end anyway.

That is fine but Caranua is closed for applications. Will it double the payment for the last applicants to use up the money?

Ms Rachel Downes

No.

Of course not, but Ms Downes is not giving me an explanation. Based on Caranua's experience to date and its administrative costs, it should cost approximately €4 million to deal with the final 300 cases if they are similar to the previous several thousand cases, which they should be. Did Caranua close it off too late? I will ask the chairman of the board. Let us say Caranua makes average payments in these cases and pays out €4 million. If it ends up with €2 million unspent, where will it go? Will it go to the children's hospital?

Mr. David O'Callaghan

I appreciate the point the Chairman is making.

Mr. O'Callaghan can see it is very simple.

Mr. David O'Callaghan

I can tell the Chairman that we have no shortage of exceptional cases - well-deserving cases - that we will revisit. There are several hundred other cases.

We are into a new situation. Caranua has closed its files and has 317 cases left. It is clear, based on past experience, that it will not utilise most of the remaining funding. Will Caranua re-advertise or reopen for applications?

Mr. David O'Callaghan

We have enough cases on hands of a deserving and exceptional nature. We will go back and visit them. Our objective is to spend every single cent on our survivors.

We understand Caranua will write the cheques. That has been said four times.

Ms Rachel Downes

We have received applications since we closed the fund on 1 August. Since then, 378 survivors have applied to us. We have made some payments under that for exceptional circumstances. This is the group we have also offered advocacy supports to. These are survivors who have not yet availed of the fund and who have applied.

Caranua has 317 live cases.

Ms Rachel Downes

The figure is 378.

It also has a big box with another 300 cases in it.

Ms Rachel Downes

We need to look at need. We know now we have a very limited pot of money. We now need to look at what we can provide to the survivors who are still remaining. We cannot say that one size fits all or we will definitely give X amount because do not know that yet. We need to know what needs the current survivors we are working with may have and what we may be left with. It will then be a matter of ensuring that the remainder of the fund is put to good use with the survivors who are still waiting for it.

Caranua has 378 cases on file that are not live, open cases. They are late applications.

Ms Rachel Downes

They are late applications.

If, when Caranua winds up in June 2020 and the board is no longer in place, cases are taken against it or appeals are made and there is a tab to be picked up, will that cost fall on the Department? As we all know, residual issues can arise.

Ms Aoife Conduit

Any assets and liabilities would revert to the Minister.

Will it come out of the funding earmarked for the children's hospital? Will it come out of the moneys from the Christian Brothers - the excess moneys beyond the €110 million or whatever the figure is - that are to go to the children's hospital?

Mr. Aongus Ó hAonghusa

There is no connection between these Caranua moneys and the children's hospital money. If there are any residual funds left over, it will be a matter for the Government and, I suppose, the Oireachtas to legislate for what will happen to that money. The Christian Brothers' excess money is earmarked-----

It is going straight to the children's hospital. I would hate to think that would be clawed back if there are any residual costs to the Department.

Mr. Aongus Ó hAonghusa

There is no connection between them.

The Department will have to carry the cost. Is that what Mr. Ó hAonghusa is saying?

Mr. Aongus Ó hAonghusa

The intention, hope and expectation are that Caranua will finish its work with no liabilities and no assets.

The board is closing shop at the end of June. We have never seen its annual financial statements completed on time. Based on the experience of this year, last year and the previous year, Caranua's final financial statement will not come until several months after the date on which it is expected to close. I do not know how that will work.

Mr. Aongus Ó hAonghusa

There have been a couple of examples of organisations that have closed down. Without pre-empting what will be in the legislation that we are working on, usually some other organisation takes on the responsibility for submitting final accounts. It could be another State body or a Department. I presume, in this case, it is more than likely that it will be the Minister who would have to close off the final accounts and submit them in the normal manner. We have not yet got into that level of detail in the draft legislation.

We are six months away.

Ms Aoife Conduit

The heads of Bill are under consideration at the moment.

There is a big list of such Bills. It is difficult to see the timeline being easily met because we do not know which Government will move the Bill next year. I apologise to Deputy Munster for delaying her.

In the annual report we received last night, under the heading of applications made after 1 August 2018, which was the cessation date, Caranua had received applications from 175 individuals. Of these, 95 had been previously dealt with as such or had previously applied for funding supports.

Ms Rachel Downes

Yes.

It appears these individuals were not satisfied given that they made further applications. Caranua indicated that 54 of the remaining 80 individuals were not eligible and did not qualify, while four were exceptional needs cases. This left 22 applicants who, I presume, were eligible for funding.

Ms Rachel Downes

Yes.

Were it not for the cut-off date, would they have been eligible and entitled?

Ms Rachel Downes

Yes.

I was curious when I read that.

Ms Rachel Downes

Can I explain what happens? Every time an application comes in under that process, it is reviewed. This is how we identify the exceptional needs from it. It is not that applications come in and that is the end of it. They are reviewed.

There are 22 eligible applicants but Caranua has not included them.

Ms Rachel Downes

Yes.

Are they included in the figure of 317?

Ms Rachel Downes

No, that is separate.

Previous speakers referred to Caranua's duty of care. Caranua hopes to use the remaining €8 million in funding by June but there may be a surplus. It did not know for certain that it would use all this money, although that is its aim. Given that Caranua has a duty of care and given Mr. O'Callaghan's comments a few moments ago that "survivors are number one", why would Caranua not have included those 22 applicants who were deemed eligible for funding?

Ms Rachel Downes

We did not know we had €8 million until very recently. At the time of the applications, when this piece of work was done, we were working with 2,000 survivors.

That work was done in terms of looking at the applications that we had on hand at that stage and what the possible projected spend might be. Only recently did we get to a position where we can get projected figures. This is where we are now hoping-----

Did Caranua flag it up with the Department that 22 individual applicants were eligible? They came after the cessation date all right but they were eligible and perfectly entitled to redress. That was their right. That is the purpose of Caranua. That is what it was set up for. The body has not included them. Ms Downes said Caranua was unsure whether it was because the body had enough in the funds. Did Caranua contact the Department? Was the body concerned that there were 22 survivors of institutional abuse in this State who were not being taken on board?

Ms Rachel Downes

We have had regular engagements with the Department in respect of contributions.

What did the Department say when Caranua made contact about those 22 applications?

Ms Rachel Downes

It would not necessarily have been in respect of the 22 applications. It would have been about funding in general.

Caranua did not think it important enough that there were 22 victims or survivors of institutional abuse in this State who were entitled to, and eligible for, the supports. The body set up for that purpose had a duty of care towards them but Caranua did not think it worthy to raise that with the Department. Is that correct?

Ms Rachel Downes

That was not the case at all.

So Caranua did raise it. Is that correct?

Ms Rachel Downes

No, we raised the question of the outstanding moneys.

We are talking about people here. We are talking about 22 survivors of institutional abuse. My question to Ms Downes calls for a "Yes" or "No" answer. Did Caranua flag up with the Department that 22 people were going to be thrown to one side and that Caranua was not giving them money? It was money they were entitled to. The body set up with a duty of care to those survivors took the view that the Department need not know. Caranua should have made it known. The body has a responsibility to make it known to the Department that those 22 people were getting zilch. I am looking for a "Yes" or "No" answer. Ms Downes has said Caranua did not. Is the answer "Yes" or "No"?

Ms Rachel Downes

We would have provided updates to the Department.

Ms Catherine Hynes

The redress board closed for applications in 2011. That was eight years ago. My most recent query relates to a survivor who was in St. Joseph's School for the Deaf in Cabra. The most recent query in terms of this person's eligibility to access redress was within the past week. Unfortunately, with everything, including all schemes of redress, there is a closing date.

Was that an administrative date?

Ms Catherine Hynes

It is a statutory limit that was set in 2011. The redress scheme was in operation from 2002. It was supposed to end in 2005. It was open for late applications until legislation was passed in 2011. Between the period from 2005 to 2011 there were an additional 2,000 late applications. Unfortunately, it is simply a fact that all schemes have an end date.

I agree with Deputy Munster, but we have to take into account that she is talking about 22 survivors. Let us consider the numbers. A study was done on the possible number of people who were still alive who could apply to Caranua. That figure was in or around 12,000. Of that, approximately 50% of the people who were eligible to apply actually applied to Caranua. Caranua has conducted extensive outreach and publicity on its closing date. Ms Downes may wish to comment on that.

It is an unfortunate fact-----

It is not unfortunate. it is shameful.

Ms Catherine Hynes

There is always going to be an end date for schemes.

Ms Hynes made reference to outreach. The Caranua report states that while it would have preferred to place advertisements in all relevant and national newspapers, it was mindful that all operational costs, including advertising, must come from under the fund. Caranua had already spent €11 million on operations and administration. Surely, the survivor comes first. Caranua undertook to outreach to get to as many as possible. It has a duty of care to each survivor. Surely, Caranua should have held back on nothing to ensure that every survivor could be informed about the closing date. It seems to me that Caranua cut back.

Ms Rachel Downes

We did major work on advertising the cessation date. We went to all the Sunday newspapers in Ireland, the UK and America. Unfortunately, advertising is cost-prohibitive. I completely understand what Deputy Munster is saying about operational costs. We have tried. Many of our operational costs go towards survivors. We have a free telephone service and a free post service. We undertake outreach to ensure we get out to meet survivors. That is part of our work as well. We tried to ensure that we used our networks, and a poster campaign was run. That would have been in every general practitioner office, social protection office and Garda office. We used as many extensive networks as we could to get the word out.

Had it been more thorough, would Caranua have reached out to more survivors? I have listening to what Ms Downes has said. To be honest, I am still completely shocked. I read a report last night about the responses to some of the victims two years ago. They discussed how they were treated or how they perceived themselves to have been treated by Caranua. I am in total shock that there are 22 survivors of institutional abuse and that Caranua did not see fit to inform the Department or flag it up at any stage that these 22 survivors were going to get nothing. I will leave that with the witnesses.

Mr. David O'Callaghan

I wish to come in.

The fact is I asked the question. The answer is that Caranua did not flag it up. As an organisation, Caranua did not flag it up. Caranua was fully aware that 22 people were falling through the cracks and it did nothing about it. I have asked the question. We have spent five minutes on it.

Mr. David O'Callaghan

I do not think the Deputy has got the full information. I do not think the committee has been given a proper answer.

There are 22 applicants who were eligible and who have got nothing. There were 22 applications of 175 after the cessation.

Mr. David O'Callaghan

They are included in the figures that we mentioned to the Chairman.

I have just asked the question. They are not in the figure of 317 open applications.

Mr. David O'Callaghan

They are not in the open ones pre 1 August, but they are in the second number of 378.

They are in reserve.

Mr. David O'Callaghan

Yes, they are in reserve. It is Caranua's responsibility to deal in the best way it can with the survivors. We would not be going to the Department on any sort of regular basis about Caranua matters or to say that we have 22 people. I misread where the 22 survivors came from. They applied late, but they are part of the 378 that we intend to revisit. There is no question-----

In answer to Deputy Connolly, Mr. O'Callaghan has said Caranua is still working with 320 cases.

Mr. David O'Callaghan

That is right.

A total of 317 are open cases.

Mr. David O'Callaghan

They applied before-----

Caranua made no reference to that in the annual report. It simply glazed over them. The report said four cases were exceptional needs, 95 of the 175 had previously applied for funding, and 54 were not eligible. The report glazed over the fact that there were 22. Nowhere in the opening statement did the Caranua representatives say that it had included those in the other figures. I have asked the question three times now. They are not included.

Mr. David O'Callaghan

There is no question of Caranua casting aside 22 of our survivors.

Caranua has not mentioned that in the annual statement. It did not refer to the 22 who did qualify after the cessation date and say they will be included. Why would Caranua not put that in the report if that was factual?

Ms Sinéad Dwyer

There was communication with anyone who applied after the cessation date. It would have been their preferred method of communication, whether e-mail, letter or a telephone call. Basically, we would have advised them that we had received the application post cessation. We would have said that, in the interim, if we did not get the chance to review it within a week but if there was an exceptional need, then the person was invited to come back and contact us and we would review the case urgently.

Of 175 cases, four were deemed as being of exceptional need. Seeing as the Caranua representatives said they would not leave them to go off without any support or anything else, did the body write to those 22 applicants and tell them that they would be part of the remaining group of open applications that would receive funding?

Ms Rachel Downes

No, because we are only at the stage now where we are in a position that we will know whether we will have outstanding funds available.

That was between August and December, so from December last year to October this year, Caranua did not write to them. There are only 22 applications.

Ms Rachel Downes

No. The Deputy has to remember we are working with 2,000 applications at the same time. We are only now at a stage where we have 300 applications. This is brand new this month. Caranua has always worked with-----

How many applications was it dealing with last December?

Ms Rachel Downes

I think it was 1,950. It is always constant-----

It did not get a chance to deal with the 22 since then.

Ms Rachel Downes

There was no point in raising false hope for people if the funding supports are not going to be available. We need to be very careful. We have made commitments to a number of people and we need to ensure-----

Therefore, there is no guarantee that those 22 people will get anything because there are a number of people Caranua has made commitments to, and it is not sure or does not know.

Ms Rachel Downes

Unfortunately, when working with a limited fund, we are in a very difficult position.

That was my point from the very start. There are 22 survivors of institutional abuse who are not going to be dealt with in the way they deserve and have a right to, although Caranua, as a board, has a duty of care to them.

Mr. David O'Callaghan

That is-----

I want to move on.

Mr. David O'Callaghan

Sorry, Deputy. We are not going to let 22 of our survivors-----

I have asked the question three or four times.

Mr. David O'Callaghan

We have been in touch with them, as Ms Dwyer said. We have written to all of them.

Did Caranua tell the 22 applicants who were deemed eligible that they will qualify?

Ms Rachel Downes

No, because that is under review at the moment. We are in a position where, as we do not have the funding supports, we cannot make commitments.

They are left there. In regard to the funding, the final fund was €111.38 million and as it is capped at €110 million, that leaves €1.38 million. Is that €1.38 million going to the children's hospital?

Ms Rachel Downes

It is going towards operational costs.

The Minister had said recently that €449,000 of the Christian Brothers moneys-----

Ms Aoife Conduit

Some €430,000 will go to the national children's hospital.

The religious orders were not instructed to give over money to correct the injustices they were responsible for only for it to go to the national children's hospital.

Ms Aoife Conduit

It is set out in the legislation.

It is set out in the legislation. Even if it is legal, it is terribly wrong. What is happening is that money is being taken from the mouths of survivors of institutional abuse in this State and going, not to the national children's hospital, but to a contractor to make up for the overrun and the Government's incompetence. That is what is happening here. Money from the mouths of survivors of institutional abuse is going to a contractor as opposed to going to the people it ought to go to. That is a disgrace. Did the Department ever flag that with the Minister?

Ms Aoife Conduit

That was a Government decision that was taken in 2011.

Is it something that could be changed with an amendment to the 2012 Act? Could that simply be amended and that injustice corrected?

Ms Aoife Conduit

That was just putting into effect a Government decision.

Did the Department ever recommend that the Government would amend that? I would have no confidence that Caranua had asked that but would the Department have said it is possible to change that so we could ensure that, for example, those 22, who it appears are getting zilch, get this money, if it were to go to the people who have a right to it instead of going to contractors for overspend?

Ms Aoife Conduit

I cannot comment on the 22 cases.

No, but I want to know the Department's position on an amendment.

Ms Aoife Conduit

The agreement with the congregations following the Ryan report was that they would make a voluntary cash contribution of €110 million. That is not like the terms of the legal indemnity that was agreed in 2002; this is a voluntary contribution. The agreement at the time was that €110 million would be disbursed to survivors and any additional moneys forthcoming from the congregations would go to the national children's hospital. That was put into effect-----

As I said earlier, just because it is legal does not mean it is right. It is terribly wrong.

Ms Aoife Conduit

That was the agreement, there was a Government decision and it was put into the legislation.

The Department did not seek to amend that at any stage.

Ms Aoife Conduit

No.

I am finished. I am quite sickened, to be honest.

Mr. David O'Callaghan

To clarify, we are going to get our total of €110 million plus the interest, and there is no question about that. I want to confirm that we will be reviewing all cases that we received after 1 August 2018. We have communicated with them. Obviously, the way the fund is shaping up at the moment, there is a good chance-----

That some will. We know about the applications Caranua received up to Tuesday, 1 August 2018. However, 378 have come in since Wednesday, 2 August 2018. I want to know how many came in that week, from the Wednesday. For example, somebody might have sent a letter from England and just because the post arrived two days late----

Mr. David O'Callaghan

The Chairman can take it that we took a very benign view of all of that.

That is great. What we are asking is that Caranua demonstrates that. I want to get an indication of the timing of the 378 that have been received since, for example, how many came in during August, September or the following month. Ms Hynes said earlier that Caranua received an inquiry in the last week or two, so they are still coming in. We have already established that €8 million is probably significantly more than needed to deal with the outstanding cases. At the end of the day, we do not want to find that there are, as the case may be, 200 requests on file for funding from people who were abused, and because their application came in after Wednesday, 2 August, decades after they were abused, they were told they were a day late, a week late or a month late. That would be a travesty when the process is over. We have had many difficulties with Caranua. We do not want a situation where there are 200 people we can do nothing for. It is an issue that will not go away. While it will probably be for the Department to take up, long before the wind-up we need an assessment or report from Caranua in regard to the cases where it has been notified, and also an estimate based on its experience as to how much it will cost to settle those cases. If it is a question that the Department or somebody has to find perhaps another €5 million, €2 million, €6 million or €8 million, or perhaps no money, in the context that not just 22 cases but 378 cases have come in late, we cannot leave several hundred people out there.

Ms Rachel Downes

Chairman, if I could-----

Does Caranua understand where we are coming from?

Ms Rachel Downes

I completely understand. The survivors are people we are working with every day and we know exactly where the Chairman is coming from.

Of those 378, I know 100 have come into the Caranua offices. Many of them must be in a panic because they were a month late or whatever.

Ms Rachel Downes

Some 64% of those have applied to Caranua previously and they have previously received funding supports from us, so it is not that all 378 have not-----

If it is 64%, about 120 of those are new people.

Ms Rachel Downes

Yes, and that is something we are very mindful of, all of the time. As I mentioned earlier, we do not want to be saying to a person, "You can apply for X, Y and Z", if we know we cannot meet that. It is about ensuring we are not going to a person and asking them to go to the trouble of getting quotes and doing all this work that we require to meet our audit requirements, and then coming back to them to say we have no money. That would put them in a difficult position.

We are going to ask Caranua to come back with some indication. If it is planning to be gone in six months, it must be in the middle of its planning process at this stage. I am just doing the sums off the top of my head. If there are 100 people out there and the average payment to date has been €13,000, that is €1.3 million, which is within the fund we think Caranua is going to have. Maybe it cannot promise them anything but it should immediately start working on those cases in order to give people some indication. I know Caranua has its live cases to process but it is clearly going to have excess funds.

Ms Rachel Downes

As Ms Dwyer said, we have contacted everyone. Every time somebody applies to us, we contact them, we ask them to raise exceptional needs and we ask them if there are any advocacy supports we can give. It is not the case that applications are coming in and we are not doing anything. We are definitely coming back-----

Caranua should be able to give an estimate of the cost. Will it be giving priority to first-time applicants or is it irrelevant that somebody has had a previous claim?

Ms Rachel Downes

Again, this is what needs to be reviewed.

Ms Sinéad Dwyer

The priority is on need.

Ideally, it would be a first-time applicant but, because each application is individual-----

Need is the priority.

Ms Sinéad Dwyer

Yes.

Ms Rachel Downes

We also need to say that we are waiting for funding. We cannot make commitments because, although we know the money is coming, it is not in our bank account.

We are satisfied that the Department says that money will be coming very shortly. Caranua will soon be in a very clear position and will be able to estimate what will be needed to deal with the cases on hand and what will be available. I encourage it to get on with making its own estimate in order to avoid leaving people high and dry. It is in the interests of Caranua for this to wind up on a good note rather than a sour one.

Ms Rachel Downes

I assure the Chair that we do that at every board meeting.

I will start with the Comptroller and Auditor General before moving on to Caranua. In his opening statement regarding the 2017 statements, Mr. McCarthy drew attention, not for the first time, to "weaknesses in the Board’s control over grant payments". He cites a number of examples of such weaknesses in the context of pricing quotations, a lack of evidence of invoices or receipts and issues relating to proof of tenancy or ownership of properties. These comments relate to 2017, had Mr. McCarthy reported on similar failures in the past?

Mr. Seamus McCarthy

We had.

Mr. Seamus McCarthy

In 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Mr. McCarthy has been reporting failures, lapses or weaknesses in the board's control for four years.

Mr. Seamus McCarthy

I referred to weaknesses in the implementation of the controls that had been put in place.

In his opening comments today he said, "The statement on internal control sets out the steps being taken by the Board to resolve the control weaknesses identified" for 2018. Is that correct?

Mr. Seamus McCarthy

Yes, that is correct.

Were similar statements on internal control set out for 2014, 2015 or 2016?

Mr. Seamus McCarthy

I recall that there were indications that action would be taken. In 2014, the first year, and probably in 2015, because of delays in completing the audit, most of the subsequent year had passed before the board was in a position to address-----

I will deal with the examples in front of me, namely, those included in the opening statement. Mr. McCarthy has categorised them into three areas. He states, "evidence was not available in respect of 56% of the sample cases examined that required pricing quotations were received by the Board in advance of grant payment", "evidence was not available in respect of around 50% of the sample grants examined that required invoices and receipts" were received, and evidence of the required proof of property tenancy or ownership was not available in respect of 55% of housing support grants examined. Were the weaknesses in those three areas the same weaknesses that were flagged up in 2014, 2015 and 2016?

Mr. Seamus McCarthy

Yes, they were the same problems.

In the statements of control set out by Caranua, were the steps it would take to deal with those weaknesses identified?

Mr. Seamus McCarthy

I do not have the statements for the previous years but my recollection is that it was indicated that steps would be taken.

I will now come to Mr. O'Callaghan, who is the chair of the board. When will Caranua be winding up?

Mr. David O'Callaghan

June of next year at the latest.

Mr. O'Callaghan still has to be held to account because the board has a responsibility to ensure that when weaknesses are identified, they are resolved and addressed. It is not good enough that year after year we have to deal with issues of compliance with public procurement rules and failures of bodies to present accounts. If a body is receiving taxpayers' money and, having carried out his work very diligently, the Comptroller and Auditor General publishes a report identifying weaknesses in governance, and if the organisation, in its own set of internal control statements, sets out that it will take steps but fails to do so, it must be held to account. One of the places where they can be held to account is at this committee. When, over the course of four years, the Comptroller and Auditor General pointed out lapses in controls in the organisation, why did the board and Mr. O'Callaghan, as chair, fail to deal with them?

Mr. David O'Callaghan

I have to accept the Deputy's criticism that it looks very bad.

It is not criticism; it is a fact. I am not dealing with personal opinions here.

Mr. David O'Callaghan

I know.

I am dealing with facts. The committee deals with factual statements and audited accounts from the Comptroller and Auditor General, not the opinion of myself, Mr. O'Callaghan, or anybody else. The facts are that, over four years, Mr. McCarthy and his team set out failures. Mr. O'Callaghan's organisation said it would remedy them, but it failed to do so. Why did it fail to remedy those weaknesses?

Mr. David O'Callaghan

I will have to start off with 2014. I have reported to the committee on this before. Caranua was set up hastily. The scope of its responsibilities and its remit were not fleshed out or specified in any shape or form. Events have shown that it did not have enough staff or computer systems. It had nothing. There was pressure on us to open for business. I accept that in 2014, 2015, and 2016, our controls were not up to specification. We have to accept responsibility for that. It is not the case that we ignored any of the comments of the Comptroller and Auditor General. We did the best we could. Our approach is that we have to be very flexible with survivors. They are a particular group and we accept-----

I must interrupt Mr. O'Callaghan. I will not allow him to use the survivors as an excuse for the organisation and the board failing in their responsibilities. The survivors have nothing to do with it. There is-----

Mr. David O'Callaghan

Without the survivors, Caranua would not-----

The survivors have nothing to do with failures of controls in Mr. O'Callaghan's organisation. He should not suggest that the survivors or their needs are the reason his board failed in its duty to correct the weaknesses the Comptroller and Auditor General outlined every year. At the start of this response, Mr. O'Callaghan stated that the weaknesses lay in the way in which the organisation was set up. That may well be the case. It may well be the case that it was not staffed properly and that it was set up hastily, but the reality is that it was set up and was in place and, over the course of four years, failures in controls were identified but not dealt with. Notwithstanding the failures in how it was set up, Mr. O'Callaghan has said that the board was not ignoring the Comptroller and Auditor General's opinions, but it certainly did nothing to correct the issues he identified. Why was that the case?

Mr. David O'Callaghan

I am sure the Deputy will find that we improved the situation year on year. We are a lot more compliant-----

Is Mr. McCarthy of the same view?

Mr. Seamus McCarthy

I do not have the percentages for earlier years in all cases.

It must have been very high. If the percentages for this period were 56%, 50% and 55%, they must have been very high previously.

Mr. Seamus McCarthy

They were. My recollection is that the percentages were similar in previous years.

The percentages were similar. I am trying to understand why the organisation did not deal with those lapses in controls. That is what we are here to discuss. We are here to ask these questions.

Mr. David O'Callaghan

The Deputy will accept that no moneys have gone missing or unaccounted for and that our accounts are in order. We will definitely have to take responsibility for not pursuing receipts robustly.

I will go back to Mr. McCarthy because I am not satisfied with this response at all. It is completely disingenuous to respond that no money was misplaced. Nobody is suggesting that money was misplaced.

Ms Rachel Downes

May I respond?

I am sorry, but no. I will return to Mr. McCarthy. His job is to make sure that processes are robust, that money paid out is properly accounted for, and that the processes stand up to scrutiny so that he can say that money spent was spent for the purposes for which it was intended. In these areas, he is saying that the processes were not robust enough for him to say definitively what happened. Is that the case?

Mr. Seamus McCarthy

There is not sufficient evidence that money was applied for the purposes intended.

He is not saying that money was not spent properly.

Mr. Seamus McCarthy

No. We have not found such a situation. We could not do so because, without going to someone's house, we would not know that improvements funded by Caranua had or had not been carried out.

We are not in a position to do that.

Ms Rachel Downes

The main area we are talking about here is the quotations received from survivors and the receipts received after payment support has been made. I completely appreciate from where the Comptroller and Auditor General audit is coming. We set out very stringent criteria. If funding support is under €1,000, we look for one quote; if it is between €1,000 and €5,000, we look for two quotes; and if it is over €5,000, we look for three quotes. Where we have challenges is the number of survivors with which we are working and the difficulties they have meeting that criteria, complying with those quotations and getting three quotes. There are a number of instances where we have made a decision that we will accept fewer quotes than we have set out in our criteria in order to facilitate that survivor availing of the service. This is constant challenge that we encounter each year.

We have constant challenges between trying to work with survivors to ensure they can avail of the services with as little difficulty as possible. It is very difficult. We are asking survivors to meet the audit recommendations, to go to three different shops to get three different quotes and come back to Caranua. They might then be told that the quotation is not correct and they need to go again. We will hold our hands up, I completely get-----

Is Ms Downes saying that the Comptroller and Auditor General was unfair because he was not taking into account-----

Ms Rachel Downes

The Comptroller and Auditor General was doing his job.

-----that the survivors were not able to comply with the guidelines that are in place? Is that what she is saying?

Ms Rachel Downes

The Comptroller and Auditor General's job is to challenge the outcomes of the service that we run and I do not think the Comptroller and Auditor General is being unfair at all. His office is obviously going by the guidelines that are set and the guidelines we have set in Caranua to ensure compliance but there are challenges associated with that.

I have no problem whatsoever in accepting that we are dealing with very difficult circumstances here, with individuals who were victims of institutional abuse.

Ms Rachel Downes

Yes.

In some or all cases, I understand there may be difficulties in the presentation of evidence. I am saying that, in process terms, the percentage of cases for which evidence was unavailable was not 5%, 10%, or 20%, it was 56%, 50% and 55%. That brings me to the point that Deputy Munster was making. There are a number of survivors who may get nothing.

I come to those 22 survivors who applied outside the statutory timeframes, and I accept that, but that said, these are people who were the victims of abuse. They got around to applying outside the statutory timeframes. Mr. O'Callaghan talked about weaknesses when the fund was set up in the first place. When we previously looked at this, there were issues on how the first tranche of money was spent. Perhaps mistakes were made in how that money was spent because a small number of survivors got money very quickly meaning that the pot of money available for others may not have been what it should have been. There were issues about that.

There have also been issues about lapses of controls in many areas, including the 56%, 50% and 55% to which the Comptroller and Auditor General referred. We are now left in a situation where there are some people who may not get any compensation whatsoever.

Can I come back to these 22 people? Mr. O'Callaghan said that Caranua will be reviewing all of these cases. Can he tell me what that means?

Mr. David O'Callaghan

When we introduced the limit of 15,000 applicants, we did a forecast which took account of the number of cases that we had on hand. That forecast showed that we had a deficit of money even if we got the entire €110 million. That was from where we were coming. It now transpires that we are going to have a surplus which will enable us to revisit the 378 applications we received after 2 August, including the 22 that the Deputy mentioned.

How much is the surplus?

Mr. David O'Callaghan

It looks as if it will be in the region of-----

Ms Rachel Downes

We do not know that for definite yet because we are still working with a number of survivors. We do projections on a monthly basis.

Mr. David O'Callaghan

Is that number of survivors more than 300?

Ms Rachel Downes

Pardon?

Mr. David O'Callaghan

How many cases are still being looked at?

Ms Rachel Downes

We are working with 312 people at the moment.

Are the 22 to which I referred included among that number, or are they a separate category?

Ms Rachel Downes

They are separate.

Ms Rachel Downes

At the moment, we are working with people who had their applications in to Caranua before 1 August 2018.

Are those 312 people also dependent on the surplus money?

Mr. David O'Callaghan

No.

Is it that the surplus money might well be available?

Mr. David O'Callaghan

Yes.

I am trying to figure out to what extent that money will be available.

Ms Rachel Downes

That is the question we also need to look at. We take at face value that the 378 applications we received after 2 August are all from survivors but we have not done eligibility checks yet because we do not want to put people through that process if we were not going to have support available to them.

Ms Rachel Downes

If we go ahead, the next phase in the process will be looking at those applications and seeing how many are eligible for Caranua services.

I will offer an opinion on this. I appeal to the chair and to Ms Downes to look favourably on those 22 cases. Caranua should do what it can for them.

Ms Rachel Downes

The Deputy needs to bear in mind that there are more than 22 cases. That total was to the end of 2018 and we have had more applications since.

However many there might be, I think that some discretion must be used. If we need to come back and amend legislation in the Dáil, so be it, if that is necessary.

Ms Rachel Downes

I need commitment on that before I tell people they are definitely going to get support. I cannot do that without commitment.

I am saying that, if that is needed, Caranua needs to tell the Department what is required so all victims actually get the supports that they need. There is an opportunity for Caranua to make an argument here. It may or may not be able to provide the necessary support through surplus funds but, if it is unable to, there is an obligation on it to say that it cannot. The legislation would then have to be reviewed and it may be that more money is offered.

I want to come now to the issue of the overall funds. Was €110 million the total amount that came from the religious congregations to be used for supporting survivors?

Mr. David O'Callaghan

That is correct.

Under law, any surplus money from the religious congregations would then go to the national children's hospital. I thought there was also a figure of €1.38 million.

Ms Rachel Downes

That was interest that was made on the €110 million fund.

Does the Bill state that only the surplus money from the religious congregations should go to the national children's hospital or does it state that interest earned on the money should also go to the national children's hospital?

Ms Rachel Downes

I will defer to the Department on that question.

Ms Aoife Conduit

The interest accrues to the statutory fund. It does not go to the children's hospital.

Ms Aoife Conduit

The €1.38 million interest that has accrued goes to the statutory fund. It does not go to the children's hospital.

It goes to the statutory fund. What is the total figure that will go to the national children's hospital?

Ms Aoife Conduit

Some €430,000 of the final outstanding contribution from the Christian Brothers will go to the national children's hospital.

Does that mean that €1.38 million of interest will go back to survivors and the operation of the fund?

Mr. Seamus McCarthy

I am not sure the interest is quite as much as €1.38 million.

Ms Aoife Conduit

It is.

Mr. David O'Callaghan

It is pretty near that figure.

Mr. Seamus McCarthy

Is it?

Mr. David O'Callaghan

The entire €111 million-odd will go to the survivors.

I am not disputing that, I am trying to get clarity on what will be the overall figure. The figure of €110 million was the cap on whatever money would come in from the religious institutions. That is to be spent on Caranua, supporting the survivors and their running costs, I imagine.

Ms Aoife Conduit

That is right.

Do we now have €110 million plus the €1.38 million in interest?

Ms Aoife Conduit

Yes.

Mr. Aongus Ó hAonghusa

The €1.38 million is interest that was earned before Caranua was established so that money was transferred to Caranua on day one. Caranua already has that money.

I am trying to establish if that €1.38 million is separate from the €110 million.

Mr. Aongus Ó hAonghusa

It is. The maximum amount that Caranua will have available to it is €111.38 million.

Mr. Aongus Ó hAonghusa

Anything over the €110 million goes to the children's hospital and that includes the contributions from the Christian Brothers.

That is the money from the religious congregations.

Mr. Aongus Ó hAonghusa

That is correct.

That is what I am trying to establish. The interest will go to the survivors and the organisation. That is good.

Mr. Aongus Ó hAonghusa

That amount has already gone to the organisation. It went straight in back in 2013.

Our guests cannot tell me at this point how much the surplus will be.

Ms Rachel Downes

We cannot because we are still working on applications.

When will Caranua be able to come back to this committee with that figure?

Mr. David O'Callaghan

The Chairman has asked us to come back with regular reports.

Ms Rachel Downes

We will give updates on that.

Mr. David O'Callaghan

We will give regular reports on the number of applications.

From a practical point of view, the 2018 audited financial statement will be laid before the Oireachtas well before Christmas. That will only update the situation to the end of last year but we will ask, when that statement is laid before the Oireachtas, for an update. It will not be an audited update but an updated briefing note from Caranua before Christmas when the accounts have been laid before the Oireachtas.

I want to make a point. Caranua talks about their survivors, but they are all of our survivors.

We have a role here as does the Comptroller and Auditor General. Weaknesses in controls can have consequences. That is why we pay particular attention to these. I do not want to duplicate what Deputy Cullinane has gone through on the level of the sample and the numbers which have been repeated over several years. However, take the consequences of not clarifying if a tenancy is a secure one. For example, we could be spending money assisting some vulnerable people but they may get a short duration out of that benefit. Take the list of the housing supports in the briefing note. Many of them are fixed such as the replacement of windows and doors, carpets, floor coverings, heating systems, roof repair and so forth. Some of them such as white goods, wheelchair and walking aids would be transferable.

Has Caranua experience of where a tenancy has not survived long after a payment has been made?

Ms Rachel Downes

No. The conversation we would have with a survivor would be as to whether they are a homeowner or renting. If they are renting a property, we would not do structural work to it. The issues arise where we have a homeowner and we have not sought evidence that they are the homeowner.

Is it to the disadvantage of people who are not homeowners in terms of level of payout?

Ms Rachel Downes

This is what we would have looked at as part of our 2016 work. It was found quickly that survivors who were homeowners were receiving a substantially larger part of the fund than people in private rented accommodation. That was looked at. This is where white goods and so forth would be available to people who were renting, as opposed to homeowners, because they can move them with them.

Is that where the lion’s share of the money was spent?

Ms Rachel Downes

It very much evened out after the 2016 guidelines were introduced. We found many more people were looking for white goods and furniture for their homes or for painting and decorating what they felt was to make the home cosy and warm around them, as opposed to actual structural work. Definitely, it moved towards white goods after that.

I have some concerns about that. We all know how precarious the housing situation, particularly the rental sector, is. Even if people are in house for a long time, there is a limit on the length of time they can stay if they are given notice to quit.

Ms Rachel Downes

It is about empowering people. While we take on board the Deputy’s point, if a person explains to us that they are renting and this is what they need or want, I do not feel it is our job to say they cannot have that because they may have to move home shortly. It is about ensuring-----

There is a duty of care to the individual who needs to get benefit. We do not want-----

Ms Rachel Downes

Somebody who loses out.

-----the landlord getting the benefit from it. That is something where there is a duty of care, particularly for people who are vulnerable to begin with.

On the sample of services provided under health supports, prescription medication and doctor visits are listed. Were they not all provided with medical cards?

Ms Rachel Downes

No. I am not entirely sure of the percentage but there are survivors who do not have medical cards

Was there not a commitment made in that regard?

Ms Rachel Downes

I know an area of great importance to survivors was an enhanced medical card, similar to the one provided under the Health (Amendment) Act 1996. Many survivors would love that area to be examined. However, many survivors do not have a medical card.

I am looking at this from the point of view of the funds being stretched, more people availing and duplication.

Some survivors have come to me with criticisms of Caranua. Some of these were repeated in the work of another Oireachtas committee. Complaints were reopened when third parties intervened. There appears to have been some evidence that some of the survivors felt very dismissed. That has been my experience with a limited number of survivors with whom I have dealt.

Ms Rachel Downes

I cannot speak for the time when I was not chief executive officer. Now we take complaints very seriously and I am proud our numbers have dropped every year since.

Would Ms Downes accept that was a feature, however?

In terms of the response to prioritise urgent medical need, where did that factor into the work?

Ms Rachel Downes

Every survivor who works with Caranua has a dedicated application adviser with whom they work. If an urgent need is identified as part of the application, for priority we looked at those over the age of 70 or if there were long waiting lists to avail of health services. We did not necessarily pay for health services. It depended on the circumstances. We may have paid for somebody to meet a private consultant in order for them to be moved up the waiting list. We also ensured they were linked in with services.

There was no point in Caranua paying for somebody to have an operation if there was nobody linked in with them afterwards, such as a public health nurse.

That would have been a criticism. Did that change over the years or is Ms Downes satisfied that this applied reasonably well right through?

Ms Rachel Downes

I cannot comment prior to my time. I can only comment on how we operate now.

Delays were experienced by some of the survivors. How many are still ongoing?

Ms Rachel Downes

We have no waiting list at this time. It was an area in which we had to work hard to improve. At times, over 2016, 2017 and into 2018, we worked with over 2,500 survivors at a time. At that stage, we had 12 application advisers who were all carrying a caseload of over 200 survivors. There were lengthy waiting lists of eight months at times. That was something we had to work hard to combat.

Since early this year, we have had no waiting list at all.

Is that only from this year?

Ms Rachel Downes

Yes. It is only for this year the numbers have dropped below 2,000.

From the point of view of the best service to a survivor, if one person is trying to manage 200, it is difficult to give them the best service. That is why we had a waiting list. We wanted to ensure that we were providing the best service possible. As numbers decrease, we do find we are in a much better position to offer that personalised service.

Caranua had preferred suppliers. Was it obligatory for people to use them?

Ms Rachel Downes

No, it was never obligatory. The recent one we had was with the SEAI, Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland. We got the SEAI to do some work on behalf of Caranua. What we found was that survivors would prefer to choose their own supplier. We respected that. It was a small number. We went through works with the SEAI but we did not continue on with it.

On the wind-down, what has been set aside for redundancies?

Ms Rachel Downes

Statutory redundancy is available for some staff who have been there for longer than two years. There is a payment with that. It is changed because we are winding down. We have staff leaving all the time. It is difficult to say what it would be until we get to the end. Then we will know what staff have been there and for what length of time.

I am sure a certain amount has been set aside.

Ms Rachel Downes

I do not have the number with me at the moment. We can provide that.

Yes. I would appreciate that.

Ms Rachel Downes

All staff are on specified-purpose contract. When Caranua finishes, staff will be looking for jobs. Nobody has been seconded from anywhere else. Everybody will be unemployed basically.

Obviously there were appeals and there had to be a degree of learning from them. Were these documented?

Ms Rachel Downes

Yes. A person would work with the appeals officer. The toing and froing would come through one person. It is documented on our case management system.

Were they written in all cases?

Ms Rachel Downes

The person looking after the appeals would meet on a weekly basis with Ms Sinéad Dwyer, director of services. They would discuss the appeals, what comes back and how we can apply it.

There is an unequal relationship between funders and applicants, though the appeals mechanism is a control for that. Has the Department ever considered conducting satisfaction surveys with applicants, or would it consider doing so for future learnings? That would take it a step outside of the organisation. People sometimes feel there might be possible consequences to giving feedback, particularly given the group in question. Would the Department consider doing that?

Ms Catherine Hynes

We would have some difficulty in doing that because we cannot access the survivors' personal data. We would have to do an open call asking people to come forward. We have considered asking Caranua to conduct an exit poll or satisfaction survey, but we are hampered by the fact that we cannot access those people's personal data. We would have to overcome certain restrictions to do that.

We hope there will not be many more large groups of survivors, but that possibility cannot be discounted, given our history. If we are going to learn from this, it is essential to have a body of information that is not from within the organisation and that will have value into the future.

Ms Aoife Conduit

The Department also carried out an independently facilitated consultation with survivors to discuss their ongoing needs, which was published earlier in the summer. Arising out of that, a survivors' group will continue consulting the interdepartmental committee that has been set up to examine how best to link survivors into mainstream services across Departments and agencies.

Ms Catherine Hynes

We can provide the Deputy with a copy of the report from that meeting. Survivors were asked for their opinions on their interactions with bodies such as the Residential Institutions Redress Board and Caranua.

I ask the witnesses to supply me with that report, please. One issue that is very important to people is making connections with family they did not know existed, as well as the work on genealogy, archives and so on. Are there GDPR issues or other issues to be dealt with regarding the archive and where it will reside when Caranua no longer exists?

Ms Aoife Conduit

All Caranua records will come back to the Department for archiving. The Department also funds Barnardos origin service for survivors who wish to contact or be reunited with family members, which will continue to be funded.

Ms Rachel Downes

Caranua has met the Data Protection Commissioner to discuss these issues and ensure we are compliant with all data protection laws.

I realise that Ms Downes has not been in her role for Caranua's duration but she must have some understanding of the kind of difficulties that presented during its establishment. What would she do differently if she were starting out now? It is important to hear about that.

Ms Rachel Downes

One of the main issues was staffing and resources. We did not have enough staff to deal with the number of applications that came in at the beginning, and unfortunately that legacy carried on over a number of years. It took us six years to get on top of that. While we have always done outreach, we can now invite survivors into our offices, so we have done much face-to-face and focused outreach work over the past 18 months. That work has been invaluable and has also helped us develop relationships with survivors.

Ms Downes earlier accepted that there have been some failures in the controls and how the funds were dispersed. Will she comment on that?

Ms Rachel Downes

As I said earlier, it is a challenge because we want ensure we are person centred and survivor focused. A big part of our remit is empowering survivors to make their own decisions and choices. That does not always lend itself easily to working with a public body due to the fiduciary responsibilities and auditing requirements we come under. We need to balance that. It has taken us a while to get to that stage, though we are getting there. We try to put the survivor first, and that is something on which we have really focused.

I am not sure that was focused on right from the word go, though that may have been due to the workload. Caranua's opening statement drew attention to survivors who required additional support managing their application as well as survivors who had received limited or no funding supports. It seems obvious that there was always going to be a cohort within this group-----

Ms Rachel Downes

The challenge is identifying who is in that cohort at the beginning. When opening up a scheme such as this one, survivors who can manage their own applications are probably the first people to contact us. It has taken some time to identify the people who need additional supports. Sometimes they are identified by other survivors. As we build relationships with them, they might inform us that they have a sibling or friend or know someone else who needs support. It is only through those relationships that we find out about people who need additional supports from us.

Would Caranua not have triaged some of that at the beginning? The people who are able to come forward will do so. By definition, one would want to look at the people within the group who did not come forward.

Ms Rachel Downes

That was due to a lack of staffing at that stage. When Caranua opened, it received nearly 2,000 applications in the first two or three months, but only four application advisers were sanctioned. The numbers were so overwhelming in the beginning that all they could focus on were the applications and ensuring that payments and funding supports were made. As we have developed, we have been able to take a breath every so often and see what is or is not working and what we need to change. In one way, it is a shame that we are only progressing, developing and putting improved practices in place as we are winding down.

That is precisely the conclusion I have reached. That is a criticisable failure. I accept that there were staffing issues, that it was chaotic and that large numbers of applications and expectations had to be dealt with. However, Caranua should have anticipated that this was a very vulnerable group. We deal with people coming through our door all the time and one has to work harder with some groups if there are literacy issues, where they might need help filling in application forms, and so on. They require more time but one should anticipate that. It appears that the people who were more able to engage with Caranua, such as those who had done better in life and perhaps bought a house, as opposed to those in a more precarious position, did better out of the fund at the beginning. That concerns me.

Ms Rachel Downes

The board recognised that quite early on, which is why the limit was put in place to ensure fairness for the survivors who applied.

That was not very early on.

When one considers the money that was spent, the bulk of the money was spent on housing supports. Ms Downes told me earlier that where there was a home ownership they were the people who were likely to end up getting more.

Ms Rachel Downes

At one stage that was the case, but that changed then.

That is where most of the money was spent in the early part.

Ms Rachel Downes

Yes.

So the learning happened when most of the money was spent.

Ms Rachel Downes

No. It was not most of the money. I cannot tell the committee exactly what the spend was at that time. Once that was recognised by the board it took steps. Obviously it took a while to implement a new scheme so it was not in 2016.

Perhaps Ms Downes would give us a breakdown of what was spent-----

Ms Rachel Downes

Is it the spend at that time?

-----each year so we can see the breakdown.

Ms Rachel Downes

Is the Deputy looking for the total spend per year by category?

That is, the total spend up until the board changed the policy about putting in a cap. Please show us how much had been committed by the time Caranua introduced the cap.

Depending on when the vote comes up, Deputy O'Connell may have some time now.

I have not had lunch so I might be a bit cross. Following on from Deputy Murphy's questions, it is my reading that Caranua set up and then started to get its ducks in a row a long time afterwards. That is my real concern here. What year was Caranua set up?

Ms Rachel Downes

It was 2013, and we started taking applications in 2014.

Caranua is really only a young organisation, as such. From the questioning here today I believe that it seems to have been a basket case from the genesis of it. It did not have the staffing complement. It has come to the fore that Caranua had not recognised the complexities of the people who would be coming to it. As Deputy Murphy has clearly outlined, Caranua appears to have been shocked that those who were most able seem to have been able to access the fund most in the initial period. I believe this to be completely at odds with Caranua's job in the first place. These people, who are our people and a legacy of what has happened in Ireland, are all of our responsibility. I am very disappointed that the system set up for people to engage has not been fair from the outset. Does Ms Downes feel this is a fair charge today?

Ms Rachel Downes

As I said, I cannot speak for how things were set up in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017-----

Ms Rachel Downes

I was not working there at the time.

Who was? Is there anyone here who was?

Ms Rachel Downes

No.

Mr. David O'Callaghan

I was not there from the start, I am afraid, but I will address the Deputy's question. It was not quite a basket case, it was far from it in the early days. There is no question about it-----

Did Mr. O'Callaghan ever make any representation to anybody to say "I am Chairperson of this new organisation. I really am concerned about its ability to deliver for survivors"? Did Mr. O'Callaghan make any such representation?

Mr. David O’Callaghan

I believe I did, at this committee or at the education committee. Getting back to an earlier question about a consultancy, yes we did get in consultants - I believe it was Mazars - just to-----

Here we go again. When did they come on board?

Mr. David O’Callaghan

It was a very focused study. I am aware that "consultancy" is a dirty word but it was a focused study to look at the job we were given and the resources we had. They found that we needed a trebling of resources to deal with it.

Okay. So how much money? There was €110 million, and the interest which was lodged beforehand. That was a total of €111.38 million. Was any interest accrued during the period? The money was held and Caranua needed access, so was there any interest on the €111.38 in the time?

Ms Rachel Downes

It is actually a negative interest rate at the moment, and for some time.

Mr. David O’Callaghan

It is lodged in the-----

Ms Rachel Downes

In the NTMA account.

Is it lodged in a current account?

Ms Rachel Downes

With the NTMA.

They are dealing with it. Well, they do not seem to be too bad at that bit of it.

Ms Rachel Downes

There was a period when staff numbers were low and we were very reliant on contract staff-----

The witness keeps saying the staffing numbers were low-----

Ms Rachel Downes

This was a big factor.

-----but the whole function of this was to help people, to provide supports and to try to compensate for the awful things that happened. I am not sure-----

Ms Rachel Downes

Our remit was to provide funding supports for-----

Yes. Funding supports to help people.

Ms Rachel Downes

I do not think there was any question of not recognising the task ahead, or anything like that, but there was the question of whether the resources were there to do it in the best possible way from the beginning. That presented a challenge.

Ms Rachel Downes

There was a long period when we were very reliant on temporary contract staff, who were coming and going. In 2016, sanction was given for proper staffing numbers and the staff we have had over the past couple of years have been invaluable. They have been dedicated and person-centred.

We will get back to the person-centred staff. In her opening statement Ms Downes referred to "well-being". I do not like words like "well-being" because they are not scientific enough for me. Looking at Caranua's spend, there is a section on the sample of services provided in health supports. With regard to evaluating who Caranua is getting, for example counselling is the first item that struck me. When counselling is paid for from the fund, does Caranua question if it is a qualified person or is it wherever the client wants to go? I just want a "yes" or "no" response because I want to get through this.

Ms Sinéad Dwyer

Yes we did.

So then we come to massage therapy. Was there someone who may not have had not the loudest voice who perhaps needed home nursing, immunisation or something else that was essential? Were people getting money for massages when others were not getting money for a wheelchair, for example? How can we be spending money? I am aware there is value to massage but it is hard to quantify. There are other items such as reflexology, acupuncture, chiropractic, osteopathy and pain management, which I find a bit strange considering there is prescription medication. Is this a person coming in with a receipt for Solpadeine or something? I am just wondering-----

Ms Sinéad Dwyer

I can answer that.

No. I am not finished. How do we evaluate the cost benefit of these? I am not saying there is no benefit but I would hate to see somebody not getting dental treatment because somebody else got a massage. How does Caranua balance that?

Ms Sinéad Dwyer

That is where we get into whether we all agree with a medical model or if alternative therapies are of benefit to people's well-being. If a person needs a course of ten sessions of massage, and if that is recommended by a GP for whatever reason-----

Okay, so the prescription or recommendation for massage had to come-----

Ms Sinéad Dwyer

From a professional.

From a doctor. From who else would Caranua take direction?

Ms Sinéad Dwyer

It depends. The person may be seeing a consultant for pain management.

Not a consultant from Mazars obviously, it would be a medical consultant.

Ms Sinéad Dwyer

I understand there is no one from there. Definitely a professional recommendation is required.

Are all of the witnesses happy that this is a good use of the fund, which is everybody's money? Do the witnesses think it is good value? Are they all comfortable with that fund being spent on items such as massage, acupuncture, chiropractic, osteopathy and reflexology? We will not fall out over acupuncture because there is some evidence, but in terms of outcomes for spend the evidence for reflexology is fairly loose.

Ms Sinéad Dwyer

I do not think we can compare what one person feels or what their need is as medically recommended.

The problem is that, for a pharmacist for example, we try to not base things on feelings, it is more on-----

Ms Sinéad Dwyer

That is a medical model.

I am uncomfortable with the list as spent. Was a medical card provided at some point to people who were survivors?

Ms Sinéad Dwyer

No.

Okay. I thought that may have happened in the past.

I have a query for the representatives from the Department of Education and Skills. There was an interdepartmental committee set up a year ago. Is it the plan to take over from Caranua when it is wound down or has the Department nothing to do with it? Will they run in parallel? What is the plan there?

Ms Aoife Conduit

The purpose of the committee is to bring together Government Departments and agencies to really look at the long-term needs of survivors and how they can access mainstream and public services, and how to facilitate that.

Is that after Caranua is gone, or now?

Ms Aoife Conduit

It is working in parallel. It was set up late last year.

It is continuing to operate; we consulted survivors during the summer and a report was published. Arising from it, a survivors group is in place.

What exactly is the remit of the interdepartmental committee?

Ms Aoife Conduit

It works to ensure Departments can look at how to best ensure survivors can access mainstream services for the rest of their lives.

The Department must talk to Caranua a lot.

Ms Aoife Conduit

Yes, we talk on a regular basis.

Does Ms Conduit expect the interdepartmental committee to take over the role of Caranua when it is wound down? What does the interdepartmental committee anticipate will happen?

Ms Aoife Conduit

The interdepartmental committee will have a different role. It will look at the long-term needs of survivors, the public services available to them and how best to facilitate access to those services.

The interdepartmental committee spoke to survivors over the summer. As it does not have access to the data, how did it contact people?

Ms Catherine Hynes

We got two people to work as facilitators with the survival groups and survivors. They held a series of meetings throughout the country and in the United Kingdom. We provided them with lists of survivor advocacy groups to begin with. However, as we cannot hold individual data, all we can do is supply them with the details of the groups. They would have talked to people and through word of mouth they communicated with people.

Are the witnesses happy that that model of gathering information gives them a comprehensive view? Does the word of mouth approach help in gathering real information?

Ms Catherine Hynes

Survivors seem to be clear on what their needs are heading into the future. Those needs are set out in the report I mentioned to Deputy Catherine Murphy. Survivors say that as they age, they have a need for homecare, that they have a fear of institutionalisation and that they have health needs. They seem to be clear on these matters.

I am sure though that it is not a one-size-fits-all model. There is such a broad range of people, age groups and complexities.

Ms Catherine Hynes

One size never fits all, but we have to work as best we can with what we know from survivors.

On engagement with survivors, the interdepartmental committee spoke to groups during the summer. Is there any intention to continue this connection with survivor groups, as has just been described, into the future to inform the work of the interdepartmental committee?

Ms Aoife Conduit

There is a survivor group in place. We have issued a request for tender, RFT, for a facilitator to work with the group to continue to link the views of survivors with the work of the interdepartmental committee.

Would Caranua do it in this way again? Was it fit for purpose to help people with the remit it was given?

Mr. David O'Callaghan

That is a good question. There will have to be a lesson learning exercise.

I am worn out by the lessons that have been learned.

Mr. David O'Callaghan

We should not have started in the way we did, but now we provide an excellent service for survivors.

Caranua has been in existence for almost six years. For what percentage of that time does Mr. O'Callaghan consider it has been a functioning organisation? Was it for one of those six years?

Mr. David O'Callaghan

No, we started to get our act together in 2016.

Therefore, it was not fit for purpose for half of the time.

Mr. David O'Callaghan

There is no question but that we were struggling. The big issue in the early years was the delay in responding to survivors, for which I have apologised at this committee in the past. It was unacceptable, but we are now providing a good service.

That has been mentioned a few times, but how has it been evaluated? Deputy Catherine Murphy also asked about feedback from survivors.

Mr. David O'Callaghan

We get positive feedback.

How is it analysed quantitatively? We have heard twice about the number of phone calls, when people ring for a chat. Do we have figures in that regard and for the length of phone calls? It seems there is a lot of loose language which concerns me.

Mr. David O'Callaghan

I know.

I become concerned when I hear such loose language about lots of people ringing the organisation.

Ms Sinéad Dwyer

We monitor the statistics for phone calls. We do not have them with us, but we can get back to the Deputy with them. We should be able to tell her how many phone calls relate to open cases or are from survivors who are just ringing for a chat, even when their applications have been closed.

Ms Rachel Downes

As part of our remit, to the end of September, we had made over 54,000 funding support payments to survivors. We have spent €91.3 million-----

How many people received those 54,000 payments?

Ms Rachel Downes

I will get that figure for the Deputy. In the past few years the number of complaints has decreased, as has the number of appeals.

I would hope so, seeing that Caranua got its act in order-----

Ms Rachel Downes

The number of active representations has decreased.

Things would be strange if it had not.

Ms Rachel Downes

The 54,000 payments were made to 5,695 people.

Caranua has dealt with 5,695 human beings since it started almost six years ago.

Ms Rachel Downes

We have worked with more than that number. Some survivors with whom we have worked have decided that they do not want to continue with their applications for one reason or another or that they will move backwards and forwards to us.

That is the number of people who received money, but it does not represent the number of applications.

Ms Rachel Downes

That is correct.

What is the differential?

Ms Rachel Downes

It is a small number. It runs to a couple of hundred. Unfortunately, some people passed away before receiving a payment, while others have chosen not to continue with their applications.

The entire running costs for Caranua, leaving administration of the fund out of it, amount to €11.38 million. What is the total bill for staff and buildings since Caranua started? I will have to leave to vote.

Ms Rachel Downes

To the end of September, we had spent €11.5 million. We would need to give a breakdown because that figure includes all operational costs. A lot of the money would have gone towards providing a freefone service for survivors.

I have to leave to vote. Are we coming straight back?

One or two members have indicated that they would like to come back in a second time. We will suspend the sitting until 2.30 p.m. I hope the meeting will not continue for too long after that.

Sitting suspended at 1.30 p.m. and resumed at 2.30 p.m.

I return to the number of cases and people. Some 5,695 people applied for and received money, having gone through the system, while others, for whatever reason, did not reach the end. Has Ms Downes to hand the figure for Caranua's total staff costs since it started? I refer to the costs for regular staff, external consultants and-----

Ms Rachel Downes

We do not have that figure with us but we can find it.

Caranua might revert to us with the figure for the total spend. My question is how much Caranua spent administering a fund of approximately €111 million.

Ms Rachel Downes

Just the staffing costs.

The total staffing costs. I refer also to legacy bills, such as for redundancy payments due to staff if and when the organisation is-----

Ms Rachel Downes

It will be the best guesstimate because we will not know until the very end, depending on-----

Yes, but we can drag out the trajectory in that regard.

To clarify, we will ask Caranua to revert with the figure for the total costs since it started. I refer to the costs for staffing, the office, administration and everything else.

The Deputy is not just asking for the staff costs but the overall cost of running the organisation.

Ms Rachel Downes

If we give a breakdown of operational costs as an overall-----

The total cost of running the organisation.

I would like it broken down into staff and bills that will arise when the organisation winds down. What will be outstanding in terms of money going out? What will be needed in the bank to pay people what they are due? The Chairman referred to spend on rental property and any other cost to administer the service. The percentage-----

Ms Rachel Downes

There is the breakdown in the 2017 financial statement. Does the Deputy want the overall categories?

How much did it cost to run the organisation from the time it started until now?

Ms Rachel Downes

Yes, from the same breakdown. That is no problem.

An aggregate cost.

On what page of the 2017 financial statement is that?

Ms Rachel Downes

Yes. If we use the same categories as a total-----

What page is it on? If we can put it up on the screen, it would be a help.

Ms Rachel Downes

It is on page 25. The way it is broken down there-----

I just want to see it on the screen.

Ms Rachel Downes

-----if we do that as a per-----

That is €2 million for 2017.

Ms Rachel Downes

Yes, so members are looking for the figure from the very beginning.

Can we have that chart for each of the years?

Ms Rachel Downes

Yes. That is no problem.

Can we could have it broken down yearly on a landscape page so we can read it?

Yes, great.

Is there a figure for the head covering incidentals, expenses, education and training in the most recent accounts? I am trying to understand the amount that has been spent under that head.

Ms Rachel Downes

In the recent accounts, it was €33,958 for staff training and development.

That is not too bad. I suppose it depends on the number training. That is fine.

When Deputy Cullinane was asking questions earlier I think Ms Downes mentioned the flexibility required when dealing with complex cases. I am concerned about the weaknesses in the set-up and that the money may not have fed down to the people most at risk or unable to engage with the organisation. That is my concern from listening to the evidence today.

Ms Rachel Downes

That was a big piece of work we undertook over the past two years. We very much engaged with survivor support groups. That is what I was talking about-----

What were the findings from that?

Ms Rachel Downes

This is where we have increased our outreach. We have deliberately targeted-----

I am not talking about what Caranua has done since. When the witnesses look back on what they had done, was there any evidence to show that the people who were more able had more access to the fund? I am not asking what they did since then but what they learned from that.

Ms Rachel Downes

It is difficult because all survivors have needs, and that is part of what we are looking at. We cannot talk about one survivor. Their need was what we assessed at the time-----

Ms Rachel Downes

-----and that is what the funding supports were provided for.

I am concerned that the organisation was set up in a way that those who might have been the most vulnerable, if that is the word I should use, did not have access to the fund. I am not saying someone's depression is more worthy than somebody's sore foot. That is not what I am assessing and I do not believe it is within our remit. I am trying to find out if the money went to the most vulnerable. Were the systems in place where the most vulnerable people had access to the fund or was it just the smartest people, the people in the know or the people who met the right solicitor who had access? How was the money-----

Ms Rachel Downes

Unfortunately, under the legislation, we were not able to make first contact with survivors. We were reliant-----

That is not my question. Ms Downes said she conducted an evaluation two years ago. What did she learn then? Was there a heavy weighting in that certain people received much more money and other people had not engaged? What were the findings?

Ms Rachel Downes

No. Some people received higher payments than others. Across the board, the average is €13,500, as I mentioned earlier.

In terms of outliers, say, somebody who got €100,000, does Ms Downes look at that and say there is a good reason they got €65,000 more than this person because-----

Ms Rachel Downes

Yes. As the Deputy said, it depends on the individual circumstances. Someone's needs at that time might have meant that work needed to be done. It could be a housing adaptation or some other work that needed to be put in place for him or her.

Ms Sinéad Dwyer

I can give the Deputy an example. When we were doing outreach in the UK more than 12 months ago, we identified survivors who had zero to €5,000 of funding. We contacted them and found that 50% wanted to meet us and there was a cohort of approximately 20% who did not want to engage with the service for whatever reason. That was a respectful decision after we assessed the reason. We will always explore with what we have on hand but as Ms Downes said, the legislation prevents us contacting people directly.

Does Ms Downes believe there is any role for her to get an extension to Caranua's remit? Instead of moving to a different process, now that the organisation has got its house in order - not necessarily financially but in terms of the witness' claims that they have sorted themselves out - does she believe it would be beneficial to survivors for the organisation to continue longer than was intended in light of its bad start?

Ms Rachel Downes

There is very much a recognition that many survivors have ongoing needs.

Yes. That is my point. It is not fixable.

Ms Rachel Downes

I believe that will be an ongoing area for survivors.

Has Ms Downes concerns about survivors being left hanging, so to speak, after Caranua ceases? Where do they go then?

Ms Rachel Downes

I do not know if the Deputy was here earlier when I spoke about that. It is a piece of work we are looking at currently in terms of trying to link survivors with other supporting organisations that will be about the long term, especially the survivor support groups. I mentioned earlier that we have also done some work with ALONE. We are linking survivors in with ALONE and it is offering services. Befriending services is a key part. Social isolation is-----

They are transitioning to a different service.

Ms Rachel Downes

Yes.

With their unique needs, does Ms Downes believe that will work?

Ms Rachel Downes

It is difficult to say. There are so many variations of survivors. Some survivors are fully immersed mainstream services who will be absolutely fine. Others may need supports to access mainstream services. There can sometimes be a reluctance to do so and they may need that bit of encouragement and support to be able to avail of all services available to them.

Does Ms Downes believe that organisations such as ALONE are fit to do that in that it took so long for Caranua, whose very remit was to help people out with these complex situations, to do it? Surely ALONE and whoever else will face the same challenges it faced.

Ms Rachel Downes

The organisations are doing excellent work. I cannot speak on their behalf as to their abilities.

They are different from Caranua.

Ms Sinéad Dwyer

They are, but what we are doing is working in partnership, so we are knowledge-sharing at the moment. That is part of the winding-up process. When we do an application with the survivor, there is almost another needs assessment done regarding what has been achieved, what is missing, what we have not been able to provide, and what other services we can provide. That would be part of the closing with us in respect of the wind-down for the survivor.

I spoke to the Chairman before lunch about the list of health supports. Is it the case that these are the headings under which the witnesses can claim or is it the case that when the receipt is presented the witnesses slot it in and they might create a new category?

Ms Rachel Downes

It is a needs lend. It depends on what the survivor asks. It is what the survivor presents to us and whether it goes in, and we are very flexible when it comes to the grant. Our approach is very flexible.

Regarding a value for money assessment, when Caranua spends X amount on a lease or housing support, does it follow up on that and decide whether, say, the insulation work helped or save on bills or is that just done and dusted in that moment?

Ms Sinéad Dwyer

Part of our closing of the application is getting feedback on the service provider and whether that has enhanced their life in any way. That would have been part of the entire process.

It is all qualitative. Do the witnesses do a financial assessment, as such, on the spend?

Ms Rachel Downes

It is something we have looked at. We just have not had the financial resources to spend on something to do with that because we do not have in-house capacity to do it. It would involve a spend, and then we are very much in a position again of not spending money.

We have come full circle back to our role here, which is scrutiny of taxpayers' money-----

Ms Rachel Downes

Exactly, and the-----

-----or money spent.

Ms Rachel Downes

And it is coming from the survivors' fund.

It is money, and it is our people.

Ms Rachel Downes

It decreases the fund available for survivors so we are very mindful when it comes to costs.

Being mindful never gave the witnesses a clear audit. Do they know what I mean?

Ms Rachel Downes

That is why-----

Mindfulness never set us free from audits.

Ms Sinéad Dwyer

That is why the quotes in line with the Comptroller and Auditor General are the first starting point in regard to the work so that there is value for money and that there are two or three quotes on file.

Just because there are two or three quotes does not necessarily mean it is value for money. The witnesses are saying that they have not been doing value for money assessments on the spend.

Mr. David O'Callaghan

In the sense that we go out to each and every applicant-----

What Ms Dwyer is saying is that when it is being closed, it is assessed. What I was talking about was more qualitative. Does Caranua do any financial assessment? Does it say that it gave Mary €60,000 and that it has had so many positive outcomes? Does it do any of that type of assessment?

Ms Sinéad Dwyer

We do not go out to properties after the works have been done but we have explored that. The intrusion-----

Caranua has never done that. It has paid for work done on a building but no one has ever gone out to check the work was done.

Ms Sinéad Dwyer

We ask for the builder's report the end of the works. That will have a-----

Is there any auditing of invoices?

Ms Rachel Downes

Yes, we have internal auditing. It is audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General as well.

Mr. Seamus McCarthy

Some of the problems arose because there were no receipts.

It was an invoice but not a receipt.

Mr. Seamus McCarthy

The payment was based on a quote and the actual payment was not vouched at the end of the process. That was one of the controls I found fault with.

For example, let us say we want a new kitchen suitable for somebody with particular needs. The builder gives a quote for €10,000 and the quote document comes into Caranua and it pays the money before the work is done. Is that it?

Ms Rachel Downes

We cannot ask the survivors to pay the money upfront.

Does Caranua pay all the money or a deposit? One would never pay a builder upfront. Talk me through that.

Ms Rachel Downes

It depends on what the survivors want-----

We will just take the example of the €10,000.

Ms Rachel Downes

There are two different ways. We do this through cheques, but through to a third party. Caranua is not listed on the cheques to protect the confidentiality of survivors. If it is for €10,000, we will probably do two or three cheques. They are given to the survivor who would be in the process at the time. The survivor can then pay the-----

A quote comes in for €10,000 for a new kitchen and Caranua approves it. The builder wants to start so Caranua gives €2,000 or €3,000 until it reaches €10,000. Caranua never receives a completion notice for work done or itemised bills.

Ms Rachel Downes

We ask for receipts and an itemised breakdown of the quotes in the first place.

I thought the Comptroller and Auditor General said that we did not have receipts and that was a problem.

Ms Rachel Downes

Not for all the work.

Mr. Seamus McCarthy

Not for all the work.

It was for more than 50%, though.

Mr. Seamus McCarthy

Yes, it was.

Mr. Seamus McCarthy

Yes, of the sample we looked at.

That is another concern.

Ms Rachel Downes

It is one of the difficulties - that ask for receipts all the time from survivors. Obviously, it is part of the process all the way through. It would also be included every time a cheque or payment goes out. We cannot compel or ask the survivors to pay for the work in advance.

I understand that. It is the reason they need the grant.

Ms Rachel Downes

We pay the funding supports. We ask the survivors to give us a set of-----

Is it not very loose?

Ms Rachel Downes

It is trying to be person-centred and ensuring the survivors are not-----

Between flexibility, being person-centred, reflexology and the whole lot, there are so many things where there is no control over money.

Ms Rachel Downes

This is the area we find very challenging. For a survivor to get three quotes in first place, it is quite difficult.

I understand that. That is not-----

Ms Rachel Downes

The quotes come into us and we do-----

I cannot understand how anyone would administer money without physical evidence that work was done, which Caranua clearly said it does not have, and continue to write cheques without an official receipt from the person who got the money.

Ms Rachel Downes

We have to trust the survivors we are working with. There is whole conversation taking place. This is not just one conversation. They are working with their application adviser and that can be-----

Caranua does not seem to have much concern about reconciling its accounts, with invoice in, money out, job done-----

Ms Rachel Downes

It is not that we are not concerned about it. We have implemented a lot of controls to try to improve that. From this year, as mentioned earlier, we have more than €2 million in funding supports that are due to come to us on an annual basis. We are now looking at the more of a staggered approach. We give a payment for a piece of work, and when the receipt comes in, we give the next tranche of payment.

This has been going on for years, which is clear from the Comptroller and Auditor General's report. There have not been receipts. Did Caranua ever do a snap audit? Did it ask if the money was going to the wrong place? Did it ever examine payments of €40,000, €10,000 or €4,000? Did it do an audit to see if there was any falsification?

Ms Rachel Downes

Are we talking about falsification of quotes?

Yes, or falsification of invoices. Did Caranua ever delve down?

Ms Rachel Downes

It is something we have looked at.

What does "look" mean?

Ms Rachel Downes

We have done that and reported some cases to the Garda.

Is it widespread?

Ms Rachel Downes

No, survivors are not out to-----

It is not the survivors issuing the invoices; it is building people.

Ms Rachel Downes

If it is a supplier, the survivors will tell us and we will have to follow up on that. On one occasion we helped a survivor report somebody to the Garda. It was a very small amount. I do not want the committee to think-----

In what Caranua looked at-----

Ms Rachel Downes

That was what was reported to us or what we felt was fraudulent behaviour. It is a very small amount.

Does Ms Downes believe it is good governance not to check up on the ultimate destination of money paid and the actual work done in terms of just basic accounting?

Ms Rachel Downes

It would have be great if we could have employed somebody to go out and check work but the resources were not there. An ideal situation would have been to have somebody on staff to do initial assessments or the follow-up work afterwards.

They could have done spot checks.

Ms Rachel Downes

I know staff are trained to check to see if somebody's insulation has been done. I do not have building staff.

I find it very concerning. I am not saying it is all the witnesses fault but there seems to be a common thread of not having enough staff and saying it is not our fault, we did not start off as we should have and we sorted ourselves out halfway through but now that we have sorted ourselves out, we are going to wind up. It all seems like a bit of a merry dance. Hopefully, survivors-----

Ms Rachel Downes

Again, I need to come back----

I am sorry but I am not finished. Hopefully, survivors have benefited, which was the whole point of this.

Ms Rachel Downes

That is the case. We are ensuring survivors were empowered.

How does one measure empowerment? What is its metric?

Ms Rachel Downes

Conversations, talking to people-----

Ms Sinéad Dwyer

It is also giving them a choice. The resilience that we have seen-----

How does one measure resilience? An awful lot of things spoken about today are unmeasurable.

Ms Sinéad Dwyer

I am not sure how one would measure empowerment. It is a personal feeling. For the survivors, that empowerment may be that they can only provide one invoice, that they found this process is difficult or that they have benefited from this process. I am not sure how one would measure empowerment but if the Deputy knows, please let me know.

I sure will. I thank the Chairman.

To wrap up that particular point, from what I hear, there is risk that Caranua may have paid €2,000 or €,3000. Caranua is not invoiced for the work because it deals with the survivor and not with the contractor employed by the survivor. Caranua cannot get an invoice made out to it under any circumstances. It does not come to Caranua but it goes through the survivor. The obvious question is, where these stage payments have been made, how does Caranua know the work was ever done? To put it bluntly, we live in the real world just like the witnesses. If I ask for a quote for €10,000, I can say I will take a cheque for €5,000 and I will give the other person a cheque for €5,000 and we are all happy. That happens. The second thing that happens is that I receive a quote for €10,000, the job is done for €5000 and we split a difference.

Ms Rachel Downes

Maybe I am more trusting of survivors.

I have total empathy and I would not agree with the Deputy-----

I was not questioning survivors integrity. I am questioning the integrity of builders and people doing work. I want to make sure that is clear.

Ms Rachel Downes

That is why we get three quotes.

We are near the end of road at this stage. We understand the need to protect the anonymity of the survivors who were allowed to commission the work themselves. I am not saying anything went wrong but we cannot be sure of that. There is a question mark there.

From Caranua's contacts, it knew of the genuine cases. All these people had been through the other redress schemes to start with. Caranua would be aware of the bona fides of the people it is dealing with. This gives a level of comfort as to whom one is dealing with, even though it is not a verifiable assurance. There was something of a risk there.

Ms Rachel Downes

That is part of the reason we get the three quotes. We arrange to do a cost comparison, which is what we ask for. It is not just quote but it is a breakdown of the works. We are looking to see if there is a commonality across the three quotes and a similarity of price.

If one builder's price is much higher, something is not quite right there.

Does Caranua have any clerk of works rather than administrative staff who have a concept of what to install such as a stove?

Mr. Seamus McCarthy

A quantity surveyor.

Ms Rachel Downes

No, we have never employed a quantity surveyor.

I am not saying the quantity surveyor or clerk of works would be there to inspect premises. These exact claims come into local authorities for disabled persons grants for work on a house such as a stairlift, work on windows, gutters or doors, an extension, or downstairs toilets. They engage somebody who knows the cost of installing a walk-in shower, for example. Let us make up a figure of €5,000 while it is €8,000 in another area.

Ms Rachel Downes

We will develop that.

Such a person would have been able to say that a stairlift costs €7,000, not €12,000. They could say-----

Mr. Seamus McCarthy

That it looks reasonable.

It would be a check of how reasonable it is, not an exact check.

Ms Rachel Downes

Considering the number of quotes coming into us daily, there is a lot of commonality, so that is something we have learned very quickly without having a quantity surveyor on staff.

Or even a traditional clerk of works or a site foreman who would have a little practical knowledge. We are all more on the administrative side. We are not talking about checking every job. There would be a bit more practical-----

Ms Rachel Downes

We looked at preferred suppliers previously because this was one of our concerns. Listening to survivors, they want to choose their own and do not want people going into their houses.

It is about dignity for the person.

Ms Rachel Downes

It is a matter of trust. Sometimes when we go to a survivor and ask him or her for more information, that survivor feels mistrusted. That can sometimes cause a breakdown of the relationship between us and the survivor. We do not want that to happen. We want them to still avail of their funding supports.

We agree with that. There is a little independence as well. That would diminish their well-being-----

Ms Rachel Downes

Yes, if they feel they are not trusted.

Being able to place an order and get a job done in the house contributes to a person's well-being, which I understand. Perhaps not everyone in this room fully understands that but many of us do. The point is made and we will move on. I call Deputy Connolly.

Does the Department of Education and Skills have a special unit?

Ms Aoife Conduit

That deals with the redress?

Yes. Is the Department winding that down?

Ms Aoife Conduit

No.

What is the Department's plan for that?

Ms Aoife Conduit

There is outstanding work to be done on redress outside Caranua.

What work is left to do with Caranua?

Ms Aoife Conduit

We are considering the heads of Bill to dissolve Caranua.

The Department is considering heads of Bill.

Ms Aoife Conduit

It has not yet gone to Government.

Ms Aoife Conduit

We have the draft heads of Bill.

When is the expected date of publication?

Ms Aoife Conduit

It is on the legislative programme for the autumn so it has to go to Government.

Is the delay on our side as legislators or with the Department of Education and Skills?

Mr. Aongus Ó hAonghusa

There is no delay.

So it is ready to go?

Mr. Aongus Ó hAonghusa

No.

I hear that the board is going to wind down by June at the latest.

Mr. Aongus Ó hAonghusa

We have started the planning work for a draft Bill but it is still very much at a preliminary stage. It is a long way from Government, legislative drafting or the Oireachtas.

We will get the legislation at some stage and do our job when it comes before us. In the meantime, the board will be wound up without legislation. Is that what the witnesses envisage?

Ms Aoife Conduit

No. I envisage that the legislation will have passed by the time the board is wound down.

Mr. Aongus Ó hAonghusa

That would be the intention. Based on what the chairman, Mr. David O'Callaghan, said, it will be next June or thereabouts before Caranua has finished its work.

The board has a job to do and is doing it as well as it can. We as legislators have a job to do, as does the Government. We need this important legislation to wind down this process.

Mr. Aongus Ó hAonghusa

I imagine it will be a short Bill to deal with whatever issues are left to be dealt with.

What does Mr. Ó hAonghusa envisage will be left?

Mr. Aongus Ó hAonghusa

It may be to provide for whatever residual assets are left over and any possible liabilities. There is a standard template for legislation.

Does Mr. Ó hAonghusa envisage residual assets being left over?

Mr. Aongus Ó hAonghusa

We do not know. Time will tell.

Does Mr. O'Callaghan envisage residual assets being left over when Caranua winds down?

Mr. David O'Callaghan

I do not think so.

Am I correct that Caranua's intention is to use all of this money for the benefit of survivors?

Mr. David O'Callaghan

That is correct. There may be €1.99 or so left in the kitty. There may be some technical issue but our intention is to use it all up.

Are there plans to do a post-project review of Caranua, as we are so familiar with having just received one from another Department about the Pálás Cinema in Galway? Has it begun? Do the witnesses see any issues?

Ms Aoife Conduit

I do not envisage doing a review.

A review should be carried out urgently because the Department and Government were supposed to learn lessons. I started off by quoting from this document. I do not want to personalise anything but I do not see any lessons that have been learned about this. Perhaps I am wrong. Please argue back and tell me where I am wrong.

Ms Catherine Hynes

I think the Deputy is referring to the Comptroller and Auditor General's special report on the cost of the child abuse inquiry and redress. The lessons that are supposed to be learned from that will apply to redress schemes in the future. It could be argued that Caranua was not a redress scheme. A recommendation from the Comptroller and Auditor General was that the Department would carry out a post hoc evaluation of the redress scheme, which we are in the process of finalising. In doing that, we look back at the original estimates of the cost of redress and the actual projections of how many people would be involved. We expect to have this finalised shortly.

That is okay. I understand that is a mammoth task, given the number of people involved. The general points made were presumably for all types of schemes. Any Department would-----

Ms Catherine Hynes

I think they were mainly to look at redress in the future. I could be wrong.

Is this scheme not a form of redress?

Ms Catherine Hynes

It could be argued that Caranua is not a form of redress.

We could argue on the top of a pin.

Ms Catherine Hynes

We can of course.

The report states that a scheme is designed for Caranua, including measures to reduce litigation costs.

Ms Catherine Hynes

Can I point out-----

I will give the four bullet points. There are accountability arrangements, since there have been serious deficits over the past years. The third is expenditure forecasting methodology, which had serious flaws. In 2016, three years after the scheme was ostensibly set up, criteria were brought in for a cut-off point. The fourth point is effectiveness in meeting intended objectives and outcomes. Those are not just points for one specific scheme but learning points.

Ms Catherine Hynes

Yes, but that report came out in 2016. Caranua opened its doors for business in 2014. Caranua attempted to look at the projected number of people who would avail of it. It carried out an actuarial study of the number of survivors estimated to be around at the time. When Caranua saw where moneys were being spent it took corrective action. It was accountable under the code of practice for the governance of State bodies from 2009 and, after that, the 2016 version. There was accountability for Caranua all along.

Perhaps there was accountability on paper, and certainly in what this committee saw. I have read the documentation and minutes. There were significant gaps. I think Ms Hynes and Mr. O'Callaghan would accept that, prior to his time, there were gaps in accountability and in the way things were done. I think Mr. O'Callaghan has accepted that in the past.

Mr. David O'Callaghan

There were certainly gaps in the way things were done in the early days.

Caranua's position today is much improved.

Mr. David O'Callaghan

Yes.

At what stage did Caranua look at the projected number of people coming forward?

Mr. David O'Callaghan

As Ms Hynes said, an actuarial study was done in, I think, 2016, which found that the potential population would be 8,000 or 9,000.

Ms Sinéad Dwyer

Some 12,000.

Mr. David O'Callaghan

Some 12,000 originally but I think the-----

Ms Rachel Downes

It was approximately 16,000. The study took into account the possibility of survivors that may be deceased since they received redress and it was estimated at approximately 12,000.

Mr. David O'Callaghan

At that stage, we had to rethink our approach and forecast.

All the information was available from the redress board regarding the number of people who went forward - between 14,000 and 16,000 - and the number who received it is set out in this report at more than 15,000. That was potentially what Caranua was facing. Some died.

Mr. David O'Callaghan

Life would have been an awful lot easier if we had written to each of the individuals who had come through the redress scheme to tell them that Caranua had opened and that they were to let us know what their requirements were.

I want to take the focus off the survivors as they have had to cope with enough. I do not even like the word "survivor". I want to talk about the accountability of Caranua. Approximately 15,000 people who went to the redress board were potential clients for Caranua. Is that right?

Mr. David O'Callaghan

Yes.

Good. There would have been some natural loss through deaths and people being ill and not coming forward, but Caranua knew the numbers it was facing. It did not, however, rise to that expectation and ask itself how it would cope with the finite sum of €110 million. It did not ask what its plan would be or how it would do it in a fair, just and equitable way. Mr. O'Callaghan may say I am wrong, but if it did act in the right way, it certainly is not jumping out at me from the documentation.

Mr. David O'Callaghan

As I was not there in 2014, I am not sure what the thinking or the background was. As I said, the scope of the challenge was underestimated, but we got to grips with it in 2016.

I have read the documentation and it should not have been like this. The report shows that it was underestimated and highlights the division between the Government and the religious organisations which agreed to pay €128 million each, but the final bill was over €1 billion.

Ms Rachel Downes

We need to take into account the numbers who have applied.

I will let Ms Downes speak, but I do not want to be distracted. I want to sort out the problem of governance and the question of a plan and objectives. The Comptroller and Auditor General laid out four bullet points. Surely the board looked at them at some stage and decided how it was going to proceed.

Mr. Seamus McCarthy

That is the learning point to which I was trying to draw attention in 2016. As the representatives of Caranua said, it was already up and running at that point. Perhaps I was coming too late with those points. They were there in 2002 or 2003, as was the underestimation of the payments that would be made, the number of beneficiaries and so on. I was trying to set out the learning the system needed, as a whole, not just in the Department of Education and Skills but in all Departments where such systems were being contemplated.

That information has been available since 2016. A sensible board would have looked back and tried to see how it would have tackled it in a fair and just way.

Ms Rachel Downes

Which is what was done.

Does Ms Downes think so?

Mr. David O'Callaghan

In fairness, if Caranua, the Department or whoever else was setting the parameters in 2013 or 2014 had taken the €110 million and divided it by 15,000, it would have come out with a totally wrong figure.

I did not suggest doing that. I do not know who suggested it. As it was the potential figure Caranua had to meet, it needed to plan around it.

Mr. David O'Callaghan

If we had planned on the basis that there would be 15,000 applications, we would have been way off the mark.

Mr. Seamus McCarthy

By leaving it open-ended, it was the firstcomers who claimed and were awarded.

Mr. David O'Callaghan

Sin ceist eile.

Mr. Seamus McCarthy

If Caranua had divided the €110 million by 15,000, it would have come up with a smaller amount. It could have then gone back in and recycled the figures to have a second bite.

Mr. David O'Callaghan

That would have been very complex.

Mr. Seamus McCarthy

I do not think so.

Mr. David O'Callaghan

If we had gone back for more money-----

Sin ceist eile a dúirt an finné, agus is ceist thar a bheith tábhachtach í. Even now, looking back, Mr. O'Callaghan is justifying the system under which Caranua gave more to the people who applied first and less to those who applied later. Is that right?

Mr. David O'Callaghan

I am just trying to speculate on the thinking in 2013 and 2014 when Caranua was being planned.

I am not asking Mr. O'Callaghan to speculate but to learn as he goes along. He was new on the board, but he has now been there quite some time, as has Ms Downes.

Mr. David O'Callaghan

We did learn, which is why we introduced the limits in 2016.

I want to come back to the questions about rent and the contingency plans. With what contingency plan has Caranua come up for outstanding appeals or court cases and findings of the Ombudsman? How many appeals are outstanding? How many cases are in the Ombudsman's office and what provision has Caranua made for them?

Ms Rachel Downes

Caranua is working on 15 appeals and the estimate is that €400,000 will be required.

They are with the appeals office.

Ms Rachel Downes

No. The decision has been made and Caranua is working on them.

Are the decisions in favour of the clients?

Ms Rachel Downes

Yes.

An estimated €400,000 is due in those cases.

Ms Rachel Downes

Yes.

Are there outstanding appeals in which there has not been a conclusion?

Ms Rachel Downes

That information is with the independent appeals office. My understanding is there are 24 appeals, but that figure would need to be clarified.

What provision has Caranua made for those appeals?

Ms Rachel Downes

It is part of the balancing out of decisions that may be made. We try to guesstimate the value if decisions in cases are overturned.

That is what I am asking.

Ms Rachel Downes

We will do it as a piece of work.

When will that lovely piece of work be done?

Ms Rachel Downes

It is done every time we receive notification of an appeal.

What is the contingency sum? What figure has Caranua set aside for those appeals?

Ms Rachel Downes

It is €385,000.

Along with the €400,000.

Ms Rachel Downes

Yes.

Are there other possible legal cases?

Ms Rachel Downes

Not that I am aware of.

There are no contingency plans for any such case.

Ms Rachel Downes

No.

Is any with the Ombudsman?

Ms Rachel Downes

I believe there is one case with the Ombudsman. There were two, but none of the complaints was upheld.

I am asking about contingency plans. Are there financial consequences or are they procedural cases?

Ms Rachel Downes

There are no financial consequences, of which I am aware.

Caranua is winding down. How is it doing it?

Ms Rachel Downes

We have reduced staff numbers from 29 to 20.

Has Caranua decided that it only needs 20 people to do this work?

Ms Rachel Downes

At this time, yes.

Ms Rachel Downes

Yes.

How many of the 20 are agency staff?

Ms Rachel Downes

Two are agency staff.

Ms Rachel Downes

We were unable to find staff who were suitable for the job through an open competition.

The positions were advertised.

Ms Rachel Downes

Yes.

There were over 300 cases remaining in 2018. Were they new cases?

Ms Rachel Downes

Not necessarily. Some were opened in 2014.

What is the total figure for the cases with which Caranua still has to deal?

Ms Rachel Downes

There are applications we are working on and applications which were made by survivors post-cessation. I cannot give the Deputy a definitive figure because we do not know if all of them are eligible to apply for services.

I understand people applied after the closing date. I missed the earlier discussion, but I will look at the transcript. I am talking about people who have made a valid application.

The total is 317.

Is that the total figure on Caranua's books?

Ms Rachel Downes

Yes.

Are some of them repeat applications?

Ms Rachel Downes

A very small number of them are but the majority are first-time applications.

I still do not know the breakdown. Of the 300 plus, what is the breakdown?

Ms Rachel Downes

We can supply those figures to the Deputy.

Does Ms Downes have them now?

Ms Rachel Downes

No, I do not have them with me.

I ask the Chairman to take note of the issues on which follow-up is required.

The secretariat is taking notes.

In regard to rent, what is the arrangement in regard to that and the figure Ms Downes gave me earlier?

Ms Rachel Downes

The OPW holds the lease and we have an arrangement in place with the OPW.

Is the OPW the leaseholder to a landlord?

Ms Rachel Downes

Yes.

Caranua has a special arrangement with the OPW.

Ms Rachel Downes

We are required to give six months' notice to the OPW.

Caranua has an arrangement with the Office of Public Works, in respect of which there is payment involved.

Ms Rachel Downes

Yes.

Am I correct that initially no rent was payable? There was no rent in question for the first few years.

Mr. David O'Callaghan

I do not think we paid any rent.

No rent was paid, which was the issue. Caranua moved from a no rent liability to a massive rent liability.

Mr. David O'Callaghan

That was not of our-----

I am not putting the blame for it with Caranua.

Ms Rachel Downes

My understanding in regard to the office in which we were located in North Frederick Street was that initially there was no rent charged but the expectation was that that was a short-term arrangement. The lease for the building as a whole was due to expire. Again, the OPW was the leaseholders of that building.

Ms Downes has given me the figure. There were fit-out costs as well. What were the fit-out costs and what was involved? Perhaps the witnesses can provide a follow-up note on that as well.

Ms Rachel Downes

It was €67,000.

Is €67,000 the total fit-out cost?

Ms Rachel Downes

Yes.

On what was the money spent?

Ms Rachel Downes

It was the cost of fitting out two offices, the relocation of a kitchen from an old area into the new area, because there was no kitchen there, and an area where we could facilitate one-to-one meetings with survivors.

At six months' notice Caranua will vacate that building and there will be no penalty.

Ms Rachel Downes

No.

Will there be a penalty if six months' notice is not given?

Ms Rachel Downes

We met recently with the OPW and it is very aware of our situation.

Will there be a penalty if the six months' notice is not given?

Ms Rachel Downes

No, there is no penalty.

Good. Caranua is not then really tied to a six months' notice timeframe so it could leave sooner if it had to.

Ms Rachel Downes

This forms part of the discussion we had with the OPW. We discussed the fact that as we are winding down our staff numbers we are happy to move to a smaller premises if the OPW has one available or we are happy to co-share with another organisation as well to reduce costs. The OPW is aware of that and it is looking into the possibilities in that regard.

When did that discussion commence?

Ms Rachel Downes

We had that conversation about two months ago.

Ms Downes might provide follow-up details on the rent.

What is the annual rent?

The witnesses gave that figure this morning.

Ms Rachel Downes

We did.

Mr. Michael Fitzpatrick

It is €279,402.

That is the figure inclusive of service charges?

Ms Rachel Downes

I apologise but I am unclear on what additional information the Deputy is seeking in regard to the rent.

Am I correct that the figure provided is inclusive of VAT?

Ms Rachel Downes

Yes.

It is inclusive of VAT and service charges.

Theoretically, the notice period is six months but Caranua can vacate the building at any time without penalty. That is good.

Ms Rachel Downes

Yes but we have every intention of giving six months' notice. As I said earlier, we have already engaged with the OPW on the matter.

I am concerned now with how the money can be used most effectively with the least amount of administration costs. I have never been happy with the rent but that has been debated many times. If Caranua could rent cheaper, more suitable alternative accommodation there would be more money for those who need it.

Ms Rachel Downes

Yes.

Ms Downes might indicate when that is likely to happen and if, following on from the discussion of this matter with the OPW some two months ago, the OPW has come back to Caranua with any possibilities.

Ms Rachel Downes

Not yet.

Caranua needs to do that to save money.

Ms Rachel Downes

I know and that is why we raised it as a point in the first instance.

Ms Downes sees a need for it.

Ms Rachel Downes

Yes. We are always trying to minimise operational costs. We are mindful that the operational costs come from the fund and decrease the amount of supports available to survivors.

On the two CEO payments, was that clarified in my absence?

Ms Rachel Downes

Yes, for three months, there were two payments.

What was the cost? Ms Downes mentioned there was no extra person so what was the reason for the additional cost?

Ms Rachel Downes

I will have to provide that information in a follow-up note.

There was a CEO in position and another person was acting CEO. Is that correct?

Ms Rachel Downes

Yes.

In regard to the person who was acting CEO, was it a person who was already in the organisation?

Ms Rachel Downes

I was the acting CEO, so it was a very minimal cost.

The cost was minimal because the two people concerned were already on the payroll.

Ms Rachel Downes

Yes.

When Ms Downes was acting CEO, the knock-on effect was that somebody else was acting up in regard to her role.

Ms Rachel Downes

Yes and it was somebody already in the organisation as well.

Were additional staff recruited as a result of the upward movement in roles?

Ms Rachel Downes

No.

Mr. David O'Callaghan

If there is an overlap it is marginal.

There was no additional cost because the personnel involved were already on the payroll.

Mr. David O'Callaghan

That is correct.

The witnesses might provide some follow-up information in that regard.

Empowerment was mentioned. The best way to empower people is to ensure an organisation is effective, transparent, efficient and mindful of the reason it exists. That is the best way, in my opinion, to empower people.

Ms Rachel Downes

I agree and that is why we have worked extremely hard over the last two years to meet those requirements.

That may well be. I want to return to a point made earlier by Deputy O'Connell in regard to checks and so on. Have people complained that the construction work was deficient?

Ms Rachel Downes

Yes.

How has that been dealt with?

Ms Rachel Downes

We have given information to the survivors on how to make a complaint and we have supported them making complaints. In other cases, we have met with suppliers to have problems rectified.

Has Caranua met the construction companies?

Ms Rachel Downes

Yes.

How many times and with how many are involved?

Ms Rachel Downes

We have met one construction company twice.

Ms Rachel Downes

Yes.

It produced defective work.

Ms Rachel Downes

No. The matter is being investigated. Where information has been fed back to us we have had a conversation with the construction company and it now has to come back to us to let us know if it is or not.

In two situations?

Ms Rachel Downes

Yes.

Have the problems been rectified?

Ms Rachel Downes

The matter is ongoing.

For how long has it been ongoing? Is it a month or two years?

Ms Sinéad Dwyer

I do not have with me the information in regard to individual cases.

Ms Downes might also provide a note on it.

Ms Rachel Downes

To clarify, in some cases it could have been work that was carried out earlier on but it has only come to our attention now in that something has happened with the work.

I have a few questions for the witnesses.

On the 317 cases on hand, what we need from Ms Downes is information regarding the dates on which they were received. It was mentioned that some of them have been to hand for several years.

Ms Rachel Downes

And they will probably be with us until the end.

How can some applications be four years on file before being closed? I ask the witnesses to explain why if a person contacted the organisation in 2014 with an issue four years later it is still not addressed.

Ms Sinéad Dwyer

There are various reasons for it. People can sometimes dip in and out of the process because it may be difficult in terms of the previous trauma that they have experienced. Given the purpose of the organisation, they may feel that it brings up many issues. Other reasons include that survivors may have been in and out of other institutions, hospitals and prisons and personal reasons, such as family, a death in the family and so on.

I get the picture. In regard to the winding up process, how does Caranua propose to deal with these cases? What approach will it take to these intermittent contacts? Will they be a matter for the Department? The legislation refers to the tying up of outstanding assets and liabilities that might arise from the work of Caranua. Who will estimate that? Will it be taken on by the Department?

Ms Sinéad Dwyer

This will be part of what we call our targeted outreach. We will attempt numerous times to contact those survivors that may be having difficulties or may be on low funds with a view to organising outreach. For example, we recently engaged in prison outreach because when we reviewed cases at the start of the year we identified 51 survivors who were in prison on low funding.

What does Ms Dwyer mean by "on low funding?"

Ms Sinéad Dwyer

They have received nothing from the fund and their cases may have been open since 2014. Of that 51 applications, 19 had received some funding and 32 have received no funding.

So we have been out and about in quite a lot of the prisons and have managed to get more than 32 people through the application process. We have about 12 more people to see who have received no funding.

So Caranua's case workers help people get over the line.

Ms Sinéad Dwyer

Yes. At the end of this, as we become closer to winding down and as are hitting survivors who have found the process more difficult for various reasons, we are actively engaging project teams within the adviser team that are aimed at certain survivor groups or populations.

There is one thing I do not get from what I have been hearing so far. It has been said that of the 317 outstanding cases, 95% or thereabouts are first-time applicants. Caranua has made payments to about approximately 6,000 people. I see in the annual report how Caranua has made payments of €11,500 to survivors to date. This means that on average, 6,000 people got two payments. Obviously, some got one payment while others got three or four. Could the witnesses explain these figures?

Ms Rachel Downes

No, it is €11,500 for one year. That is just 2018. The overall payments are-----

Caranua has made payments to-----

Ms Rachel Downes

The average payment is about €8,000 per survivor but I would need to look at it.