Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Bill 2012: Report Stage

Amendments Nos. 1, 21, and 23 to 29, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 1:

In page 7, between lines 11 and 12, to insert the following:

" "terms" in relation to a relevant trust means terms whether or not in writing;".

Amendments Nos. 1 and 29 are essentially technical in nature, and simply move the definition of "terms" from section 42 to section 2. This change is required because the expression "terms" also appears in section 29 of the Bill. Therefore, it is more appropriate that it be defined in the general interpretation section, namely, section 2. Consequently, amendment No. 29 deletes the text of the definition of "terms" from section 42.

The remaining seven amendments are also amendments of a technical nature that amend sections 29 and 42. These sections facilitate the making of contributions by relevant trusts, which are defined as the congregations that were party to the 2002 indemnity agreement, or those charities that manage scheduled institutions. The existing text provides that the trusts can make contributions, notwithstanding that this may not be authorised by the terms of the trust. These amendments extend the provisions to allow contributions to be made where it may be inconsistent with the charitable purposes of the trust. These provisions are being made to address concerns raised by some congregations in discussions with the Department.

Amendments Nos. 26 and 27 provide consequential clarifications and are necessary to ensure there is no confusion about the word "purpose", which appears in sections 42(2) and 42(3). I am satisfied that these provisions are necessary and that they will further assist congregations in making contributions towards the cost of redress.

I welcome the introduction of these amendments by the Minister and I agree that they will help ensure the maximum is provided and put to necessary use.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 2 to 5, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 2:

In page 7, to delete lines 14 to 20 and substitute the following:

"3.—(1) This Act shall apply to any person (in this Act referred to as a "former resident"), whether or not he or she is resident in the State, who is a former resident of Irish institutions identified in the various approved schedules of institutions as applied within the Residential Institutions Redress Act 2001 and eligible to apply to the Redress Board.".

This was discussed at length on Committee Stage. It is probably one of the biggest areas in which people have sought change. It relates to the fact that the Bill restricts access to the fund to those former residents who have already received awards from the RIRB or from a court. Many survivors have said that this is just too restrictive and is unjust on that basis. There are many reasons people may have chosen not to seek redress. We dealt with them in this Chamber even on Second Stage. Some people had to deal with the issues themselves. Some people were outside the country and were not aware of the availability of the scheme. Some did not want others to know about their plight or simply found it too hard to deal with it at that time. It is unfair that they should be denied again this time.

The reason given for their exclusion is that the fund is limited and that if more people are added, it will delay the process and eat into moneys for everybody else. I do not accept that. Very strong arguments have been put forward about the small number of applicants living outside the State, mainly in Britain, numbering no more than a couple of hundred people who would seek to avail of the assistance. That will certainly not break the bank.

Another area that has been identified as a complexity is how to identify the people. Very good points have been made by some of the religious orders. The trust fund is not a redress issue. The redress issues have been dealt with by the redress board. Many people who were resident in these institutions, whether or not they were abused, should be able to avail of the fund because they were disadvantaged by virtue of the fact that they were in the institutions in the first place. One of the orders was quoted in the Ryan report as stating that an important aspect of this process of exploration, acceptance and understanding by the State and the congregations is the acknowledgement of the fact that the system failed the children, not just that the children were abused because occasional individual lapses occurred. People who were resident in these institutions have needs which have not been met. They were disadvantaged by their time there. Many arguments have been made about the nature of the fund and whether people should avail of a lump sum or a pension. These are worthy demands, but I think the definition and the terms are too restrictive at the moment. That is why we are moving the amendment.

As the Minister of State, Deputy Sherlock, explained on Committee Stage - I was not able to attend myself - the effect of these amendments would be to widen significantly eligibility to the fund, which Deputy Daly has acknowledged. Some suggest that former residents who would be eligible for an award from the redress board should be eligible, while it is unclear in other instances whether the proposal is to include all former residents, irrespective of whether they were abused, in scheduled institutions. Amendment No. 5 also proposes to include family members of former residents in the case of educational services.

As I have repeatedly stated, the Bill's primary purpose is to establish a statutory fund to support the needs of survivors in keeping with the all-party motion that was unanimously agreed by Dáil Éireann in 2009 in the aftermath of the Ryan report. As the Deputies are aware, a maximum of €110 million will be available to the fund to assist around 15,000 potential beneficiaries. If eligibility were significantly widened to include all former residents of scheduled institutions, as is proposed, then the amounts available to fund services for individuals could be greatly reduced. Accordingly, the effectiveness of the statutory fund would itself be put at risk. Some of the amendments refer to former residents who were eligible to apply under the redress Acts. Anyone could apply to the redress board and we know more than 900 applications to the board were withdrawn, refused or resulted in no award, generally on the basis that the person was not resident in the scheduled institution itself.

The Government has deliberately and for good reasons proposed confining entitlement to the 15,000 or so survivors who will have come through the redress process. If the fund were to investigate applications to establish residence and injury consistent with alleged abuse, as would be required if amendment No. 3 were accepted, clearly a considerable structure similar to the Residential Institutions Redress Board would be required, thus expanding the role of the statutory fund and deflecting it from its intended focus. The statutory fund is not intended nor is it designed to consider issues such as abuse. Since it will take applications only from those who received an award from the courts or the redress board, all issues relating to abuse have been dealt with, allowing the fund to focus on the needs of the prospective recipients. Extensive efforts were made to facilitate claims to the redress board. Those former residents who did not apply to the redress board can continue to avail of the counselling and family tracing services available.

The motivation for amendment No. 5 appears to be to allow the child of a former resident who received an award from the redress board to benefit from the fund in so far as it relates to educational services. The receipt of a grant or assistance of educational services from the education finance board was not linked to the receipt of an award from the redress board. This amendment proposes that any former resident and his or her relatives, including children and grandchildren, could benefit. Again, widening eligibility to include children and grandchildren would result in broadening the scope of the fund beyond that for which it is intended. The education finance board has done excellent work in distributing the moneys which came from the religious congregations under the 2002 indemnity agreement. Former residents and their relatives did benefit from this support. However, it was always clear the particular fund would run out and we are now almost at that point.

I appreciate the sentiments expressed by Deputies regarding the range of eligibility issues. I urge them, however, to see the logic of the Government's position on this matter. I have indicated previously that the issue of who was eligible to apply for assistance could be reviewed following the establishment of the statutory fund in the event of the applications to the fund not resulting in a significant expenditure of it. In view of the considerable concerns expressed by Members and by some groups and congregations, I am prepared to commit to reviewing the operation of the fund two years after its establishment.

While I note Deputies' many useful and positive comments, I believe it is best to proceed on the basis as proposed in the Bill as outlined. Regrettably, I must, therefore, oppose these amendments.

Eligibility is one of the major weaknesses of the Bill. On every Stage I have argued about this section. It was discussed at length on Committee Stage with the Minister and I altered my amendments for Report Stage to take on board some of his points. The fund should be opened up not just to those who applied successfully for redress but also to those who, if they had applied, would have been successful. It should be opened up not just for those who have been through the courts concerning their abuse in a residential institution but those who may go through the courts in the future.

Having spoken to many of the survivors, I noted many of them found the whole redress process very difficult and regretted going through it. Some spoke about the process lacking empathy and how it opened up old wounds from the past which they are still trying to live with today. I find it difficult for us as legislators to draw a line in the sand when it comes to who is and who is not eligible for this fund. Clearly, we are talking about people who fulfil all the criteria and who were abused in residential institutions with the complicity of the State.

There are many reasons survivors of abuse did not feel able or were willing to apply to the redress board. It is wrong they should be penalised for not meeting a deadline. Many of those to whom I have spoken were clearly traumatised by their experiences in the institutions. Understandably, they did not want to re-open it at this time in their lives.

To illustrate the point, this morning I spoke to the husband of a survivor who had spent 19 years in an institution. She was supposed to be released when she reached her 16th birthday but she was retained in the institution until she was 21. In the 1990s, she took a court case which took seven years to get to court because of delays due to changes in solicitors on the State's and the institution's sides. In court it emerged from one of the witnesses that sexual abuse was involved which led to the case having to be stopped. The same woman applied to the redress board but was turned down on the basis she had gone down the court route. In one of her discussions with a counsellor, she was asked if she was still considering going down the court route, to which she replied it would be her preference. She did not get redress as a result. This woman is now outside the process, meaning she is not eligible for this fund.

Another survivor, who is disabled and now lives in the United States, suffered from severe post-traumatic stress disorder after 16 years of abuse. He will require counselling and medication for the rest of his life but must survive on a small stipend. He applied successfully to the redress board and the State is paying for basic counselling but refuses to cover his medication costs. It is wrong that only those eligible for assistance from the fund will be former residents who were offered awards from the residential institutions redress board or received awards pursuant to court actions. We need to show those who are not eligible for the fund – those who decided they could not go through the redress process - that we are concerned about what happened to them and that the State's apology to them is inclusive.

Under this legislation, a person who pursues a court action relating to their abuse will not have access to the fund. This is a weakness in the legislation that needs to be addressed. As matters stand, those who have not received redress to date will be excluded from benefiting from the new fund. It is expected that some 15,000 former residents - whether living in Ireland or abroad - will successfully complete the redress process and be eligible to apply for the range of services on offer. The Minister has previously stated that to widen the eligibility criteria to include all former residents would reduce the amount of money available to fund these services. When discussing the moneys for this fund, it must be remembered that last year we gave away an absolute fortune to zombie banks. The fund is relatively small, particularly when one considers what families have gone through and the inter-generational effects that have become apparent.

There is a need for flexibility. It is welcome that the position will be reviewed after two years. However, I do not want us to be obliged to wait two years. As the Minister, other Deputies and I are aware, those whom we are discussing have experienced absolute horror in their lives. Mr. Justice Ryan mentioned some of the things done to people in his report. As public representatives, we have spoken to people and are aware of the abuse they endured. In all conscience, I do not believe that, as legislators, we can put up a barrier for those to whom I refer. We failed them in the past and by not including them under the legislation we will fail them again.

I experience strong emotions in respect of this matter. That is because people have related their stories to me. Some individuals were not able to seek redress or go to the courts. The difficult part for them was that they would have been obliged to narrate what had happened to them to counsellors, the Garda, the courts and their families and friends. That is a huge step for anyone to take. Many of those to whom I have spoken were not prepared to take it. As stated, others who went through the process regret doing so to this day. Their families also have regrets in this regard in the light of the impact it has had on their lives. In short, they did not have a positive experience. Most of the individuals with whom I have been in contact have informed me that it was never about the money. What they wanted was an apology and to be able to tell their stories.

That is the background to my amendments. The Minister of State, Deputy Sean Sherlock, indicated on Committee Stage that there was a difficulty with them. The Minister asked how we would actually process what was proposed. A number of later amendments in my name outline how we should proceed in the context of the board which will not be not a court of law. There are those who would be quite capable of making decisions on allowing the people to whom I refer access the fund. According to Right of Place, at least 150,000 children and teenagers went through orphanages, industrial schools and centres for young offenders, with many suffering abuse at the hands of religious orders and others in charge of their care. An estimated 100,000 left Ireland afterwards, with a large proportion going to the United States. In that context, previous speakers referred to the fact there were people who were not aware of the State's efforts in establishing the redress board. We have, of course, discussed that matter in detail on previous occasions.

The eligibility criteria severely limit people who have a right to avail of the statutory fund. They fail to take into consideration survivors who for many reasons were unaware that they could seek recompense from the redress board or were unable to do so while it was in operation. The amendment tabled in Deputy Brendan Smith's name refers to approved services covered under the Bill and would allow the children of survivors to avail of services relating to the statutory fund. I support what the Deputy is seeking to achieve in this regard. I want to facilitate those who were hurt by ensuring they will have an opportunity to access the new fund. That is why I am seeking to have the eligibility criteria widened.

Amendment No. 4 in my name requests that the phrase "former residents who would have been eligible to receive an award under the Act of 2002 but who failed to apply under the Act of 2002" be inserted into the Bill. I am seeking to ensure people who would have been eligible if they had applied will not be excluded. Some of the other amendments refer to people who might apply. Last year, when we debated what became the Residential Institutions Redress (Amendment) Act 2011, under which the redress board was wound up and which was the forerunner of the Bill before the House, I appealed to the Minister to insert a provision whereby an appeals or some other mechanism would be put in place to cater for people, should they come forward at this point, who would have met the criteria set down by the redress board and thereby qualified for payment.

I am much better informed about this issue than was the case one year ago. Having had the opportunity to meet the individuals involved and the groups with represent them, I am even more convinced of the need to put in place a mechanism whereby people who did not go before the redress board will not be excluded. I have been in contact with some of the advocacy groups in Britain and with an eminent public representative in London who outlined her concerns about the possible exclusion of people who required help. I am concerned by the fact that the most marginalised have not availed of the redress board mechanism. We are all aware of the particular difficulties they face in terms of a lack of literacy and, perhaps, social skills. In that context, they might not have been aware of the existence of the redress board. Advocacy groups, both here and outside the jurisdiction, have done a huge amount of good work in trying to get the message out in respect of the availability of assistance from the redress board and the eligibility criteria that applied. However, that message did not reach all potential applicants.

The group we are discussing is small. As time passes, the age profile of those who were resident in the relevant institutions is increasing. I appreciate the Minister's comment to the effect that the work of the statutory fund will be reviewed after two years. A period of two years is particularly lengthy for those who are in the older age cohort. That is a factor about which I am extremely concerned.

When we debated what became the Residential Institutions Redress (Amendment) Act 2011 last year, I stated provision could be made in legislation for residual functions to be brought back within the remit of the parent Department. As Deputy Seán Crowe indicated, on Committee Stage the Minister of State, Deputy Sean Sherlock, said this could lead to the creation of an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy and that funding could be used up in a way none of us would desire. I fundamentally disagree with the Minister of State's assertion. There are enough competent people in the Department who possess the relevant expertise and could take on the role previously played by those who served on the redress board. As Deputies Seán Crowe and Clare Daly stated, there were individuals who were abused in the past and lacked the mental strength to come forward and relate their stories to the redress board. I appeal to the Minister that in the event of someone who did not previously receive assistance or support coming forward and meeting the criteria applied when the redress board was in place, he or she should not be denied the possibility of accessing such assistance or support.

Amendment No. 5 relates to the provision of education services. The Minister has rightly pointed out that the work of the Education Finance Board has proved to be very important. I am aware of this because I have spoken to people who availed of the services or assistance on offer from the board directly or the family members of those who did so. My understanding is that third level students in receipt of some assistance who commenced their courses in 2010 will be assisted throughout the full duration of their courses. However, it has been brought to my attention that in the case of students in receipt of assistance who began their courses in the current academic year, 2011-2012, this new legislation will not provide for such assistance to continue. As I said on Committee Stage, it would be a shame if the lack of additional support and incentives that many young people need was to cause them to quit their third level or further education studies. I would like to have that matter investigated also.

No matter what good promotional campaigns the Minister conducts on the availability of Government programmes, many of the most marginalised will not have been reading the newspapers and as such will not be aware of the redress board and its functions. What I genuinely believe is a small number of people should not be denied access to assistance that would have been readily available to them had they participated in the work of the redress board earlier. Through no fault of their own, however, they did not apply to it.

It is crucial for us to step back and look at the reason we are here - the experience of horrendous abuse suffered by many in institutions. The State has a responsibility in that regard. The people concerned have been excluded during their lives and not listened to. However, in framing this legislation we are talking about excluding some of them who under other circumstances would have been entitled to redress before now. That is simply wrong. The Minister says he will review the matter in two years, but Deputy Brendan Smith's point is critical. This is a diminishing group and because of their age profile their numbers are, sadly, becoming smaller. Therefore, two years is a long time for such a group to wait and providing for such a review period is just not good enough. We are talking about a statutory fund, allegedly, to meet the needs of survivors, many of whom tell us that their needs are not being met because we are excluding them from participating. The fund must be opened up in that regard, as otherwise we will be doing another wrong to the very ones for whom we are seeking some justice. The definition is too narrow. I fully endorse the point made that this would not be creating a bureaucratic nightmare of assessment if we were to open it up to the small numbers eligible to apply. These points have to be taken on board.

I appreciate the sincerity with which colleagues on the other side of the House have approached this matter. I know they have met, as I have, many members of the wide group of people concerned. One cannot really call them a group, but there is a large number who share a common experience - they had this horrendous experience. However, as their experiences are different, one cannot generalise. For that reason, I have given an undertaking to review the matter in two years time. This does not mean that in two years we will start a review process. We will monitor the way the process unfolds and will make some statement or evaluation after two years. That will not overload the working system, but we are not going to kick the can down the road. Therefore, there will be a response in two years time as to what our experience has been and if changes or alterations are required, we will consider them. That is the only commitment I am giving, to review the matter within that timeframe because I have heard what Deputy Clare Daly said about the age profile of some of the survivors.

The redress scheme has been running since 2002 and over 15,000 people have come through the system. We know, however, that there are more who did not apply. We also know of some who did apply but who were not given compensation for all the reasons with which Deputy Clare Daly is familiar.

We have considered the amendments and the process involved. The total fund is of the order of €110 million. If it is divided by 15,000, one gets an average figure of €7,300 per person. Any widening of the fund would lessen its effectiveness. It is available to help people who have, to a certain extent, been granted an award which recognises that it is the State's response by way of compensation. It is to assist them in the rest of their lives. This is the best way to go in that it is the most effective way to respond to what are considered to be this particular group's requirements.

I have referred to the woman who spent seven years going through the courts without success. She failed because the local bishop or archbishop took a case on the basis of "an inexcusable and inordinate delay" in taking the original case. Consequently, she found herself out of the legal process. She went to the redress board where, for whatever reason, she was not successful either. She is outside the process and in the age cohort mentioned.

Is there any point in trying to understand the mindset of those who did not take the courts' route or apply to the redress board? It is similar to those who are raped or otherwise attacked and assaulted. At this stage they may not feel able to go through a claims process. Having spoken to many such persons, I know that the thought of narrating their stories is too difficult for them. Gardaí who regularly deal with victims know that they may feel strong enough to tell their story at some stage, but it is a huge step to ask someone to do so. We call them survivors who have survived some terrible things in their lives. My worry is that in establishing a process to help and support them we may actually make it worse in some cases. In establishing such a fund to help with support, including counselling and medical care, we must not leave people out, yet I believe strongly that that is what we are doing. I have listened to what the Minister is saying, but he is wrong on this one. I will be pressing my amendment.

I thank the Minister for his clarification, but I am still concerned about a two year review provision. We all know that no matter who is in government, such review periods can often be extended. They are generally never undertaken within the timeframe set, although that is not a reflection on the Department. However, it is a reflection on the system that deadlines for reviews, whether in the public or private sector, are generally not met.

The Minister has stated - this is understandable - that there is a finite amount of money available to be divided among the number of people who were granted awards by the redress board. Having spoken to many of them, as well as their representative groups, I know that a lot of them have been in ill health during the years. There has also been natural attrition of the age cohort. I wonder, therefore, how many of thelm will be alive when the time comes. We do not know the answer, but it depends on the law of averages. I do not know if dividing the finite amount of money available by the exact number of recipients of awards will provide the correct amount. I mentioned this when we were debating the legislation over one year ago when I had been spokesperson for only a few months. From speaking to individuals and groups both here and in Britain, I am convinced that a small number did not take the opportunity to go before the redress board. In the overall scheme, it would be a shame if, having met the relevant criteria, they were to be denied the much needed support and assistance available from the trust fund.

Does Deputy Clare Daly wish to make a further point?

The main points have been made.

Question, "That the words proposed to be deleted stand," put and declared carried.
Amendment declared lost.

Amendment No. 3 cannot be moved because amendment No. 2 has been defeated.

Amendment No. 3 not moved.

I move amendment No. 4:

In page 7, between lines 20 and 21, to insert the following:

"(c) former residents who would have been eligible to receive an award under the Act of 2002 but who failed to apply under the Act of 2002.”.

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 34; Níl, 77.

  • Adams, Gerry.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Colreavy, Michael.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Flanagan, Luke ‘Ming’.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Fleming, Tom.
  • Halligan, John.
  • Healy-Rae, Michael.
  • Higgins, Joe.
  • Kirk, Seamus.
  • Kitt, Michael P.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • McLellan, Sandra.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O’Brien, Jonathan.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Troy, Robert.
  • Wallace, Mick.

Níl

  • Barry, Tom.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Butler, Ray.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Byrne, Eric.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Coffey, Paudie.
  • Collins, Áine.
  • Conaghan, Michael.
  • Conlan, Seán.
  • Connaughton, Paul J.
  • Conway, Ciara.
  • Coonan, Noel.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Costello, Joe.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • Deasy, John.
  • Deenihan, Jimmy.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Dowds, Robert.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Feighan, Frank.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Harrington, Noel.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Hayes, Brian.
  • Hayes, Tom.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Humphreys, Kevin.
  • Keating, Derek.
  • Keaveney, Colm.
  • Kenny, Seán.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lynch, Ciarán.
  • Lynch, Kathleen.
  • Lyons, John.
  • McCarthy, Michael.
  • McFadden, Nicky.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Maloney, Eamonn.
  • Mathews, Peter.
  • Mitchell, Olivia.
  • Mitchell O’Connor, Mary.
  • Mulherin, Michelle.
  • Murphy, Dara.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Nash, Gerald.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Nolan, Derek.
  • Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.
  • O’Donnell, Kieran.
  • O’Mahony, John.
  • O’Sullivan, Jan.
  • Phelan, Ann.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Quinn, Ruairí.
  • Reilly, James.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Spring, Arthur.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Timmins, Billy.
  • Tuffy, Joanna.
  • Twomey, Liam.
  • Wall, Jack.
  • Walsh, Brian.
  • White, Alex.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Aengus Ó Snodaigh and Seán Ó Fearghaíl; Níl, Deputies Joe Carey and John Lyons.
Amendment declared lost.

I move amendment No. 5:

In page 7, line 22, after “section (1)(a)” to insert the following:

", save where such an award allowed/allows for a child of a former resident to avail of that which applies in section 8(1)(c), such child of a former resident shall continue to be eligible to avail of that approved service which applies in section 8 (1)(c)".

Amendment put and declared lost.

Amendment No. 6 in the name of Deputy Seán Crowe is out of order because it involves a charge on the Exchequer.

Amendment No. 6 not moved.

I move amendment No. 7:

In page 8, between lines 40 and 41, to insert the following:

"(i) make arrangements with persons, whether or not they are resident in the State, for the provision of an approved one off payment from the Fund, if requested,".

The Minister will agree that I am being consistent in bringing forward this amendment which has been suggested to me by persons who have been through the redress process. The argument which we have gone through on Committee Stage is essentially that the people concerned should be allowed to decide for themselves how they will use a payment received from the fund. The Minister referred at the committee to the specific purpose for which the fund was being established. However, many of the people to whom I spoke felt very strongly that the decision should be theirs and that the availability of a once-off lump sum payment would allow survivors the choice and opportunity to spend their compensation as they saw fit, whether on counselling, education or otherwise. They are very much opposed to the State asserting its power by demanding they must operate within the parameters of the fund. Rather than having to use the money for counselling, as prescribed by the State, people who have been through the process, particularly those living abroad, are strongly of the view that there should be more flexible access to moneys.

The Minister referred to a figure of €7,300 when he broke down the fund. He argued that the fund was separate from the redress process as its purpose was to provide supports for former residents of the residential institutions. The survivors argue that they should be free to choose how they spend moneys from the fund.

I support the arguments made by Deputy Seán Crowe on this extremely important amendment. We should listen to those who have been excluded. It is indisputable that a large number of those who have contacted Deputies believe the fund, as constituted, will not meet their needs. The role of the Oireachtas in this matter is to address their needs. Deputies who participated in the Committee Stage debate will have met one or two individuals who broke down during a break in the discussions. I recall one man who took hold of my hand and told me that while he was well - to be honest, he did not look well - and his needs at his advanced age had been met, he worried about what would happen to three of his children who were in wheelchairs. If he could use a payment for the welfare of his children, the fund would meet his needs.

I have received correspondence from people who need educational services for their children and wish to have a choice about how to spend money from the fund. Others have made an equally persuasive case for using the fund to provide some form of pension for victims of the residential institutions. Having a lump sum payment which individuals would be free to administer would be a much more straightforward and faster option than that proposed. One of the major issues to emerge from the correspondence we have received from survivors is that many of them believe the services to which the legislation will give them access are public services that are available to them in any case. While there may be problems with waiting lists for health services and so forth, survivors believe this legislation is an underhand means of investing more money in public services and does not meet their specific needs. Their needs would be met if they had control over the fund. This is an extremely important amendment which I ask the Minister to accept.

The proposal in amendment No. 7 that a once-off payment be made from the fund is not acceptable, given that there is no apparent linkage between the making of such a payment and the needs of a former resident. The purpose of the fund is not and never was to provide a form of additional compensation - that issue has been dealt with by the redress board - the fund, as advocated in the motion passed by the House in 2009, is intended for the support of victims of abuse.

While I understand the purpose of the fund is to provide additional services, some of the survivors argue that they should be able to decide the purpose of the fund. That is the point of dispute. The Minister has his view, while many survivors hold a different one.

While I accept that the purpose of the fund is to support victims, it is the victims who should make the call by defining what support they need. For some of the vulnerable persons in question, being able to care for their children would meet their needs, but the Bill, as constituted, prevents them from doing this.

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 21; Níl, 86.

  • Adams, Gerry.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Colreavy, Michael.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Flanagan, Luke ‘Ming’.
  • Fleming, Tom.
  • Halligan, John.
  • Healy-Rae, Michael.
  • Higgins, Joe.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McLellan, Sandra.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O’Brien, Jonathan.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Wallace, Mick.

Níl

  • Bannon, James.
  • Barry, Tom.
  • Browne, John.
  • Butler, Ray.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Byrne, Eric.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Coffey, Paudie.
  • Collins, Áine.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Conaghan, Michael.
  • Conlan, Seán.
  • Connaughton, Paul J.
  • Conway, Ciara.
  • Coonan, Noel.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Costello, Joe.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • Deasy, John.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Dowds, Robert.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Feighan, Frank.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Harrington, Noel.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Hayes, Brian.
  • Hayes, Tom.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Humphreys, Kevin.
  • Keating, Derek.
  • Keaveney, Colm.
  • Kelly, Alan.
  • Kenny, Seán.
  • Kirk, Seamus.
  • Kitt, Michael P.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • Lynch, Kathleen.
  • Lyons, John.
  • McCarthy, Michael.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McFadden, Nicky.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Maloney, Eamonn.
  • Mathews, Peter.
  • Mitchell, Olivia.
  • Mitchell O’Connor, Mary.
  • Mulherin, Michelle.
  • Murphy, Dara.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Nash, Gerald.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Nolan, Derek.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.
  • O’Donnell, Kieran.
  • O’Donovan, Patrick.
  • O’Mahony, John.
  • Phelan, Ann.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Quinn, Ruairí.
  • Reilly, James.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Spring, Arthur.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Timmins, Billy.
  • Troy, Robert.
  • Tuffy, Joanna.
  • Twomey, Liam.
  • White, Alex.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Aengus Ó Snodaigh and Clare Daly; Níl, Deputies Joe Carey and John Lyons.
Amendment declared lost.

Amendment No. 8 is out of order.

Amendment No. 8 not moved.

Amendments Nos. 9 and 18 are related and will be discussed together. I do not think there is much point in proceeding. I understand from the Minister that it is being suggested the order will be changed in order that we continue the debate on the Bill at 9 p.m. I presume the Government will propose an amendment to the Order of Business agreed to earlier.

As there was no proposal to guillotine the debate on this Bill, the order stands. We can continue after-----

No. The order states that at 9 p.m. we will revert to the Personal Insolvency Bill 2012. If the Minister wishes to change it, we will need to amend it to do so.

Am I right in anticipating that colleagues opposite would be happy to dispose of the Bill this evening? I will make the necessary arrangements through the Whip's office to allow that to happen.

Debate adjourned.