A BOARD set up to adjudicate on claims by victims of abuse in industrial schools and other institutions has spent more than €900,000 on travel, hotel bills, taxi fares and courier costs.

The average award from the Residential Institutions Redress Board is €63,210, with some former residents getting just a few thousand euros in damages.

By the time all 13,743 cases are dealt with by the board, it is expected the final bill to the taxpayer will have come to €1.1bn.

According to a breakdown of costs from the Redress Board, more than €622,000 has been spent on "travel and subsistence" since its inception.

Further hotel room hire costs of €131,692 have also been recorded, while taxi and courier services have set the taxpayer back €187,568.

Fees for board members have cost a massive €8.59m, according to accounts from the Redress Board, whilst administrative salaries have come to €8.63m.

The cost of an advertising campaign to ensure all victims came forward was €899,367, and even postage ended up costing more than €500,000.

Vending machine and water supplies at the Redress Board headquarters cost €67,538, according to the details released by the Department of Education.

"The €900,000 spend is a disgrace given the paltry sums paid to people who were abused," said Paddy Doyle, a survivor of one of the institutions.

"People would do well to bear in mind that the average payment made by the Redress Board to survivors of abuse now stands at around €67,000. Much of that €900,000 could have been used to ensure real redress rather than pocket money.

"Bertie Ahern said payments made by the Redress Board would be in line with those made to people
who took 'abuse cases' to court… the payments made to people who have gone to the civil courts is about €350,000."

The department said it expected that the final bill would now exceed the €1bn originally estimated.

"The total paid in Redress Board awards from inception to the end of November is €800,749,870. The total third-party legal costs associated with these awards, and including the costs for those applicants who
took High Court actions,
is €148,506,089," the
department said in a statement.

"At this point, overall anticipated expenditure associated with the Redress Board is estimated at up to €1.1bn. This estimate is tentative given that the board is still in the process of making awards and the level
of awards in these remaining cases may vary ­substantially."

The average claim hovers around €60,000; just 29 people have been awarded more than €200,000, and the maximum payout to one individual was €300,000.

More than a third of people who were compensated for their time in industrial schools and other institutions were given less than €50,000.

A total of 814 applications were refused or withdrawn, or resulted in no award where the claimants' stories did not appear to stack up or did not relate to the right institutions.