Tuesday, 8 November 2005
Dáil Eireann Debate
125. Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of persons who have made compensation applications to the Residential Institutions Redress Board at the latest date for which figures are available; the way in which the number of applications compare with the original estimate made by her Department; the latest estimate of the number of likely applications; the number of awards made to date in 2005; the average amount awarded in each case; the latest estimate available to her Department of the final amount likely to be paid out; the way in which this compares with the original estimate of her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32788/05]
148. Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Science her Department’s estimate of the cost of payments of compensation by Residential Institutions Redress Board to persons who suffered institutional abuse; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32809/05]
The Residential Institutions Redress Board is an independent body established under statute in December 2002 to provide financial redress to persons who, as children, were abused while resident in industrial schools, reformatories or other institutions that were subject to State regulation or inspection.
The most recent figures available to my Department are up to 31 October 2005. At that date, the board had received approximately 9,100 applications and had processed some 4,119 of these at a total cost of approximately €310.5 million. The average award is running at approximately €77,000.
The redress scheme has now been in operation for almost three years and the board will accept applications up to 15 December 2005. Based on the total number of applications the redress board has received to date, and allowing for legal and administration legal costs, it is estimated that the total cost of the scheme may be of the order of €800 million. I should emphasise that this is very much a tentative estimate and may be subject to change in the light of the ongoing administration of the scheme. The final cost of the scheme will not be known until early 2008 when all applications have been processed by the board.
The Department’s estimate prior to the establishment of the redress board was that the amount of compensation would be of the order of €500 million, not including legal and administration costs. Including legal and administration costs, the cost of awards under this estimate would be €610 million. While this is lower than the cost now estimated, it was made prior to the commencement of the scheme when there was considerable uncertainty in relation to the number of applications and the average amount that would be awarded by the board. The recent Committee of Public Accounts report acknowledges that the potential liability for redress is dependent on a number of contingencies and future events and that any estimate of the liability is made in circumstances of uncertainty.
The redress board’s estimates in its 2003 and 2004 annual reports were also predicated on a lower number of applications than has turned out to be the case. In its 2003 report the board gave a tentative estimate of final applications of between 6,500 and 7,000 applicants. In its annual report for 2004 the board increased its estimate to between 7,500 and 8,000 applications. The board has emphasised that its estimates of the numbers of applications are tentative as there are no precedents for this scheme.
Nonetheless, I strongly believe that the final cost of the redress scheme must be viewed in the context of the Government’s concern to provide reasonable compensation towards the hurt and suffering experienced by victims of abuse and the very substantial costs that would have been incurred in any event if no such scheme had been established and if cases had been processed in the normal manner through the courts.
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