SILENT TREATMENT: Frustration among survivors of institutional abuse who wait months for government response

SURVIVORS of Ireland’s brutal industrial schools have been waiting for more than 10 months for a government response to comments made about their needs.

In early 2020, the government, through the Department of Education, asked active survivor groups to compile a submission that would show the current and realistic needs of survivors.

Tom Cronin, an advocate for survivors and a member of the Alliance Support Group, which represents victims of Irish public schools, was among the participants.

This week, he revealed to The Irish Post, that the final submission, sent in December 2020, has yet to be recognized by the government.

“To help us [make this submission] the government also appointed two facilitators, ”he explained.

“A consultative group was established under the name of ‘Survivors of Residential Institutional Abuse’ (SRIA) and the work began by bringing this group together, with all their knowledge, their experiences working for and with Survivors, knowledge of past and current needs of survivors and, most importantly, current numbers (as accurately as possible) seeking help and support.

He added: “This representative group worked tirelessly during the time of Covid-19, having first mastered the skills of Zoom meetings and knowing that their efforts, once submitted to the government, would be recognized and respected in a serious attempt. finally agree on a mechanism to ensure a better quality of life for all Survivors.

“Sadly, the numbers of our survivors are now declining in all areas and regions as we, the representative groups, are still awaiting a government response from last December.”

Mr Cronin says they have yet to hear from the government or the Ministry of Education, which have also been involved in the project.

“We also had a Zoom meeting with the Minister of Education and her officials in 2020, as part of the process, which was well received,” he explained.

“In December 2020, we submitted an agreed comprehensive proposal to the government, but silence was their recognition,” he confirmed.

“To date, we have not heard a word from the government or the Ministry of Education.

“It was very frustrating for those of us who represented the survivors, who rightly waited for an answer and a response to be ignored over and over again.

“This shameful behavior is reminiscent of how survivors were treated in the past and again shows a cold, contemptuous and selfless attitude, despite the government asking for this work.

“It was, after all, their mismanagement, their abuse, their failures in our past lives that continue to trouble and haunt so many former survivors throughout their lives, but especially now where most are old, fragile, many isolated and alone. “

For Mr. Cronin, time is of the essence for many survivors and the group formed last year remains more engaged than ever in their campaign to get the services they need now.

“We would like to advance these efforts for the survivors now,” Cronin said, “time is very important to us and we stand ready to meet with the government and other agencies now to do so.”

He added, “The group, Survivors of Residential Institutional Abuse, remains committed to the work we have undertaken together.

“We appreciate the commitment of everyone and of the survivors themselves, who, although very disappointed with the lack of respect shown to them, want us to continue.

“We are committed to doing it on their behalf. “

Contacted by The Irish Post, a spokesperson for the Department of Education said: “The department recognizes that the voices of survivors are essential when considering future supports and services.

“With this in mind, a survivor-led consultation group was established in 2020 to engage in phase 2 of a consultation process with survivors of residential institutions.

“The terms of reference for this group were to contribute to the work of the inter-ministerial group established by the government to identify general services that will continue to support former survivors of residential institutions, to identify specific barriers / difficulties survivors face with services. and how these can be overcome and to consider whether these services can be easily accessed by survivors. “

They added: “This phase was facilitated by professionally trained facilitators who were funded by the Department.

“The group met regularly as ministry officials continued to engage with facilitators on all aspects of the process.

“The Minister also met with the group in December 2020 to personally engage with survivors in Ireland and the UK and to hear directly from them.

“The Phase 2 report was submitted earlier this year and its findings are now being considered by the ministry and the interdepartmental group alongside other submissions received from survivor groups on this matter.”

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