Government rejects pension proposal for survivors of State industrial schools

Government has rejected a proposal for a pension scheme to be put in place for survivors of industrial schools. 

The proposal came from a representative group who met with Minister for Education Norma Foley to discuss a package of supports for survivors. 

The meeting was part of a consultative forum that was set up after the controversial body Caranua, which processed applications for supports from survivors, was wound up last year.

A number of survivors expressed dissatisfaction with the operation of Caranua, a body that was established in response to the Ryan Report which detailed the abuses that had occurred in the State’s industrial schools. 

After Caranua was wound up a forum was established to determine how best to support survivors, whose numbers are believed to have dwindled to between 4,000 and 5,000.

Last month, a representative group of survivors met Minster Foley and her officials and proposed the pension scheme. 

Survivors of the Magdalene laundries have been able to access enhanced pension arrangements following an agreement with the Government in 2015. 

The industrial schools group proposed that instead of providing supports in areas like education, a more beneficial arrangement would be to provide pensions to survivors.

One of the group, Tom Cronin from Cork, said the concept of a pension was first raised with the department over ten years ago before Caranua was set up.

“They didn’t listen then and when we brought it up last month they said that what they were prepared to pay was up to €8,000 for survivors who wanted to access education,” said Mr Cronin.

“But nearly all of these people are in their seventies and eighties.

How many of them will want to go into education at this stage? You’d wonder was it just cynicism or an attempt to save money by setting up that kind of thing.

A spokesperson for the Department of Education said no proposals for a pension plan for survivors are being considered.

“Last June, Government approved the delivery of a balanced and proportionate package of ongoing supports and services for survivors of abuse in industrial schools, reformatories and related institutions,” the spokesperson said. 

“This is comprised of a number of elements, including health, education, and advocacy supports, and, while it is acknowledged that the supports might not fully meet the expectations of some survivors, it will address many of the key concerns identified in the consultation process.” 

The Ryan Report, which was published in 2009, detailed systemic abuse over most of the twentieth century in industrial schools run by Catholic orders and the State. 

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