THE HSE was asked to investigate the operation of a subsidised accommodation for survivors of institutional abuse returning to Dublin from the UK, the Sunday Tribune has learned.

Survivors who were returning to visit industrial schools or to attend the Redress Board were offered subsidised accommodation in a Dublin city B&B-type facility.

However, the HSE was informed by support groups that many visitors found it impossible to secure accommodation or were asked to pay in cash without receiving receipts. Others found the conditions unsatisfactory and claimed the facility was also attended by tourists even though it was supposed to be solely for survivors of abuse.

The HSE, which funded the facility to the tune of €290,000 over a three-year period, said it was aware of concerns but was never able to investigate as the operation had ceased by the time it was contacted.

Sally Mulready, a director of the Irish Elderly Advice Network Service in London, said survivors had visited the accommodation because it was affordable and because many did not have the confidence to return and stay in regular hotels.

"This facility was meant to be exclusively for survivors but they said it appeared that there were a lot of tourists there and they were a bit perplexed," she said.

"The main complaint was in terms of how it was run. They appeared to be very selective about who they would take."

She added that many people wishing to make reservations were told they would need to do so months in advance while others were simply told they could not be accommodated. She highlighted the issue in a submission to the government on the proposed statutory fund.

The HSE said: "During discussions with some survivor organisations from the UK in late 2009, HSE representatives were informed regarding some dissatisfaction... The premises had ceased operation at this stage and it was impossible to investigate... There was no evidence that the premises was being used for student accommodation during unplanned visits to the premises by the HSE during 2007 and 2008."

Efforts to contact those who ran the accommodation were unsuccessful.