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Charity Still Funded a Year After Concerns Raised



Irish Examiner, Monday, June 21, 2010 by Jennifer Hough

A CHARITY for survivors of institutional abuse continues to get government funding despite senior HSE management being shown evidence more than a year ago that there was "concern" over how the money was being used.

In a letter to senior managers in the HSE, Oliver Burke, acting administrator of Right of Place, a charity for survivors of institutional abuse, wrote "we all agreed the evidence gave cause for concern", and that "sample evidence" proved all was not being done in a "correct and democratic matter".

The letter, dated August 31, 2009, refers to a meeting held the previous March between Mr Burke and HSE managers, where he first raised concerns about how the charity was being run.

Right of Place has been under scrutiny after the HSE ordered that founder Noel Barry answer questions in relation to how it was spending its money.

However, questions remain unanswered and no independent investigation has taken place.

One of the country's largest survivor groups, it has received millions of euro in Government funding since 2002 and continues to receive money.

Mr Burke, who has fought for more than a year to have Mr Barry removed and to have an audit of accounts carried out, said he felt the HSE was now trying to cover up its own ineptitude in dealing with the matter.

"I trusted the HSE to investigate, but now that this is not happening I want it all out in the open."

Having received no adequate response to his August letter, Mr Burke followed it up with another in December.

In that letter, addressed to senior manager Gerry Kelly, Mr Burke requested that funding to Right of Place be stopped pending an investigation into all accounts and matters of a financial nature.

"I know you have tried your best to meet with Mr Barry but he still fails to answer any of your questions or will not provide proper documentation, unfortunately this is not satisfactory to any of us concerned in this matter," the letter states.

"Your department supplies a budget to Right of Place for very clear and specific reasons as laid out in the budget agreement, this has not been done correctly now for quite some time, and members who need genuine assistance are not getting it."

Mr Burke has now written to the Minster for Health Mary Harney requesting intervention.

In his letter to the minister, this month, Mr Burke outlines the problems within the charity, including incidents of intimidation within the charity, some which have been brought to the attention of Gardaí and asks for a "full and independent investigation".

In the letter he claims state funds and religious donations were "seriously misused and are unaccounted for".  

This story appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Monday, June 21, 2010

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