Child abuse victims fear loss of benefits if they are compensated

Irish child abuse victims living in the UK are
demanding that they should not lose their welfare benefits when
they get compensation – a right enjoyed by former prisoners of

Irish victim support group Right of Place says
this would exempt an estimated 1,000 UK-based victims from being
means tested on their awards. Right of Place claims that up to 70
per cent of the victims in the UK are on benefits and fear that
they will lose benefits if they receive compensation from the
Redress Board, established by the Irish government.

The board is to decide compensation in 3,000
cases where allegations have been made of abuse in Irish state and
religious-run institutions over more than 50 years.

The size of awards will depend on the degree
of trauma suffered. Ireland’s Department of Education and Science
has estimated that the total cost, to be shared by religious
orders, could be as high as euros 500m (£312m).

An interim payment is expected by the end of
August after hearing of evidence with the final payments being made
by Christmas. Awards are usually between euros 100,000 and euros
150,000 (£62,000 and £93,000).

But some support groups have objected to the
attempt to link abuse sufferers’ welfare rules to those of POWs.
Patrick Walsh, a spokesperson for Survivors of Child Abuse, said
there was no correlation between the men or women in second world
war prison camps and a “bad day” at one of the schools named in the
inquiry such as Artane in Dublin.

He urged the Irish government to indemnify the
victims if their benefits are withdrawn.

Irish government officials have been
negotiating with their London counterparts about the compensation
and benefits issue. It is believed that the UKgovernment fears that
any change of rules could lead to a flood of welfare claims from
people who have won large court awards.

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