Written Answers. - Residential Institutions Redress Board.

Joan Burton

Question:

136 Ms Burton asked the Minister for Education and Science the element of the deal between the Church and State in respect of the redress for victims of institutional abuse which have been completed; the cash, real property with a description thereof, and other services or goods handed over to the State as part of the deal; if there are delays in implementing the agreement, the nature of same; and when he expects them to be resolved. [19192/03]

Under the terms of the indemnity agreement between the State and CORI, signed on the 5 June 2002, there is provision for CORI to make a contribution of €128 million as follows: cash payment, €41.14 million; property, €76.86 million; counselling, €10.00 million. The cash sum of €41.14 million has been received in full.

Under the property aspect of the indemnity agreement two schedules of property have been submitted by CORI. The first schedule represents property to the value of €36.54 million that the religious congregations are offering to the State. Initially the State party had a period of nine months to consider these offers. An extension of a further two months was requested in order to consider the properties on offer further. Following further examination of the properties on offer, officials at my Department outlined a number of properties which the State was prepared to accept a fee simple interest in. A number of other properties were rejected on the basis that no benefit to the State could be identified by acquiring a title.

Section 8 of the agreement states that in the event that the State party rejects a property offered, the religious congregation has the right to replace the property with an alternative property or cash sum equivalent. CORI has submitted a schedule of alternative properties which the congregations propose to offer the State in place of the properties the State has declined. The nine month period for consideration of these properties commenced on the receipt of this list by my Department. The second schedule represents properties to the value of €40.32 million that the religious congregations maintain were transferred to the State since the date of the Taoiseach's apology on the 11 May 1999. To date the State party has not agreed that any properties on this schedule qualify under the terms of the indemnity. Officials at my Department have sought additional information in relation to these properties from CORI.

I assure the Deputy that there have been no delays in the consideration of these properties. Officials from my Department will not accept any property until they are satisfied that the necessary criteria have been fulfilled. As negotiations are ongoing and the issue is commercially sensitive, I do not intend giving any details of the property aspect of the agreement at this stage. When agreement is reached, a list of the properties will be made available.

Joan Burton

Question:

137 Ms Burton asked the Minister for Education and Science the services provided to date and the costs thereof in respect of counselling education and so on, to victims of institutional abuse as provided by the agreement between the Church and State; the costs of such services; the persons by whom they were provided; the locations at which they were provided; the duration of same; the number of former residents of institutions who have applied for such services; if applicants for services can select the services they wish to access; the organisations, and persons, and religious orders recognised for the purpose of providing such services; if the State has enabled such service provided to acquire or lease property to provide such services; and if so, the details and costs of same. [19193/03]

Section 7(iv) of the indemnity agreement provides for €10 million to be spent on counselling and other support services to be delivered by the religious congregations. The nationwide counselling service is provided through an organisation called Faoiseamh, which was established in 1997 to assist victims of abuse. This organisation operates a freephone service and facilitates victims of abuse and their families with one to one counselling with lay counsellors. The congregations are accountable to my Department for the operation of this fund. An initial report has been provided to my Department on the running of this service and further clarification has been sought on the exact breakdown of the service provided.

Section 7(i) provides for a sum of €12.7 million to be used by the State party for educational programmes for former residents of institutions and their families. My Department decided to administer this fund through the national offices for victims of abuse, NOVA. An ad hoc committee was established to draft an application form and criteria for eligibility in order to facilitate former residents and their families in accessing this fund to pursue educational courses. The committee is comprised of a representative from the further education section of my Department, two representatives from the City of Dublin VEC and one member from each of the four victim support groups affiliated to NOVA. The grant scheme should be in operation for the forthcoming academic year, which begins in September 2003. I am not aware of the State having provided for the acquisition or leasing of any property for this purpose.