Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Redressing Irish Life

I have a dark secret to reveal. I love Liveline and in particular am very fond of Joe Duffy. I don't think you would hear the diversity of voices anywhere else on Irish radio or television. I am struck in particular by the fact that there are often a lot of older women calling in, and a lot of people call who are in desperation over some injustice. Its a case of 'Feck the TD's, lets ring Joe Duffy.' And when Joe gets hold of some particular injustice he holds on and let the story develop and he gets angry too.
Joe has covered many facets of the Residential Institutions Redress Board over the past few years. He and his callers have addressed the Board's procedures and in fact the accompanying cover up what it is supposed to be redressing. The board was established to deal with the cases of those children who were abused while in residential care in Ireland in the last century. The legal costs are supposed to be covered by the board.

Through listening to Liveline I have learnt an awful lot about the Board and some of the experiences of those appearing before it. No individual appearing before the board can talk about what happens or how much they receive - they are bound to keeping all details confidential with afear of losing their award should it be revealed. It's the law seemingly to protect them but one wonders who they are really protecting. Claimants are not allowed to bring anyone in with them to the hearing and often they don't participate in the hearing at all and leave it to the legal people including a barrister they often have not met until a few minutes before the hearing began.
Those appearing before the board are pressurised into accepting the amount awarded to them and not to request additional hearings or to appeal it as they fear that they may lose up to half the original amount awarded. For many who take cases to the Board the money is not the issue. They want to have their day in 'court', to speak about what happened to them and to hear from those responsible for the abuse or their representatives. In fact what some of them only want is to hear an apology.

Now we learn there is 8 weeks left before the closing date for the lodgment of cases. Solicitors firms are advertising seeking clients before this closing date. Callers are ringing Liveline stating that they have had to pay money out of the awards made to them to their solicitors, this is on top of what the Board will be paying legal representatives. On average the Redress Board are paying €11,000 per claimaint but it seems many people are being asked for more, or infact having amounts deducted from the cheques issued to them. And it seems without Joe Duffy much of what we have heard to-date would have not been heard by anyone.


At 23:58, Blogger EWI said...

I have a dark secret to reveal. I love Liveline and in particular am very fond of Joe Duffy.

Eek! Your blogger street-cred just dropped through the floor...


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