Written Answers. - Compensation Payments.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

67 Mr. Connaughton asked the Minister for Education and Science when the redress board will begin its first hearings. [21729/02]

The Residential Institutions Redress Act, 2002 was signed into law by the President on 10 April 2002. The purpose of the Act is to set up a framework to enable victims to apply for compensation. The Act allows for the establishment of a Residential Institutions Redress Board. This board will administer a scheme to enable victims of institutional abuse to make an application for compensation.

The provisions of the Act allows the board to make awards based on a lower threshold of proof than is required in taking a case through the courts. An applicant is expected to provide proof of their identity, that he or she was resident in an institution, that he or she was injured while so resident and that the injury is consistent with any abuse that is alleged to have occurred while so resident.

The Residential Institutions Redress Board is independent of my Department and therefore it is not possible for me to indicate when the board will begin its first hearings. However, the chairman of the board has recently given me a provisional establishment date of 2 December 2002.

Following establishment day a process has been laid down in the Act which must be completed. When this process has been completed the board should be able to move swiftly into the hearing of applications. My Department will continue to assist the board in order to achieve this target.