21 April 2005

Daily Ireland

'Come forward' plea to abuse victims

Thousands of people who were the victims of sexual, physical and emotional abuse in Irish institutions are being urged to come forward to seek compensation.
A solicitors’ firm representing Irish victims in England estimate that 12,000 people have yet to seek redress for a lifetime of trauma brought on by abuse.
Manchester-based solicitor Peter Garsden, of the Association of Child Abuse Lawyers, currently represents around 400 Irish-born abuse sufferers, mainly based in England.
However the group believe there could be up to 12,000 victims worldwide, who suffered abuse over a 50-year period in Ireland but who have yet to come forward.
Peter Garsden is encouraging other victims to make themselves known so they can have their case heard by the Redress Board, set up by the Irish government to compensate the victims of institutional abuse.
“We believe there are between 6,000 to 10,000 people in England, with the rest scattered across the globe,” said Mr Garsden.
“It’s hard to say how many of these people now live in Ireland but it has to be in the thousands.
“A lot of people who were abused in these facilities in Ireland throughout the decades from the ‘20s to the ‘70s left the country when they came out of them.
“Many people ended up in England and we believe there could easily be as many as 12,000 living outside Ireland.
“Most were totally unprepared for life outside their institution and Ireland was poverty-stricken at the time, so they left.
“As well as seeking redress for the abuse suffered we also raise the issue of loss of opportunity.”
According to the latest figures provided by the Redress Board, 5,071 applications have been made by people claiming they were abused while being cared for in institutions, including schools run by the Catholic Church and the state.
Of that number, 2,397 cases have been processed. 1,784 offers have been made following settlement talks, while 539 awards have been made following hearings.
Just two applicants have rejected their awards, and only one application for a settlement was rejected.
In total, 73 refusals have been issued for various reasons.
So far the average value of each settlement totals €78,0000 (£53,000). The largest pay-out possible is €300,000 (£204,000) and depends on the severity of abuse suffered.
A fund to cover the cost of compensating victims is topped up every two months by the Department of Finance.
A spokesperson for the Redress Board declined to comment.
Anyone who suffered abuse while at an Irish institution can call the Survivors Helpline on (00 44) 800 783 5969 (freephone from the North of Ireland), or call (00 44) 0161 482 8822 from the South of Ireland. There is also free advice in the ‘Irish Survivors’ Guide’, which can be found at www.irishsurvivors.org.uk.
The deadline for lodging a case with the Redress Board is December 2, 2005.

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