Many claims for physical, emotional and sexual abuse suffered in Irish Institutions going back as far as the 1920’s have been filed in Ireland. The claims involve children residing in industrial schools, orphanages, reform schools and other types of institutions who were subjected to ill treatment. In response to an awareness of this treatment, the Irish Government in December, 2002, created the Residential Institutions Redress Board. The purpose of the Board was to compensate those who had been abused as children in residential homes in Ireland. The schedule of institutions involves numbers well over a hundred, located in all parts of Ireland.
The filing period for claims with the Board is three years from the date of its establishment, so it will end in December of this year. It is estimated that thousands of people in the United Stated may be eligible to file a claim, but, that many have still not done so and that many may not even be aware of their right to file such a claim. The Redress Board, which is an independent entity, is chaired by The Honorable Justice Sean O’Leary, a Judge of the High Court.
The claim process begins by filing an application with the Redress Board. There are two application forms: a general application form for those applying for themselves or for persons under the age of 18 or person incapable of managing their own affairs, and a deceased application form for persons applying on behalf of a person who has died after May 11, 1999.
After receiving an application, the Board may obtain further information, which includes notifying the person and institution involved. After the Board obtains all the information it deems necessary, it then may make a settlement offer. The applicant is free to accept or reject the offer. If accepted, no hearing is necessary. If rejected, it will go on to the hearing stage by the Board.
Most of the claims filed with the Redress Board have been settled without a hearing. The Board endeavors to settle the claims without a hearing, especially if the burden of travel is too great. The hearing process of the Board is informal, private and not opened to the public or media. The cases are handled with sensitivity to the subject matter of the claims. If the applicant is not satisfied with the award by the Board, an appeal may be taken to the Residential Institutions Review Committee. If the award is accepted at either level, the applicant gives up the right to bring an additional claim in court for the injuries.
The filing deadline for claims with the Irish Residential Institutions Redress Board is December 1, 2005. If you or a friend or relative was the subject of this type of treatment, contact can be made with attorneys in this country who can work with solicitors in Ireland to process the claims. Additional information is available at www.rirb.ie.