Written answers

Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Department of Education and Skills

Child Abuse

Photo of Willie O'DeaWillie O'Dea (Limerick City, Fianna Fail)
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595. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills when a new redress scheme for victims of sexual abuse in primary schools will be established; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15257/20]

Norma Foley (Kerry, Fianna Fail)
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The Ex Gratia Scheme established in the wake of the ECtHR was set up to deal with a specific cohort – people who had discontinued proceedings in the domestic courts in the wake of a number of High Court judgments and the Supreme Court judgment in the LOK case.

The review is ongoing. The Department of Education is committed to reviewing the ex gratia scheme, in conjunction with the Office of the Attorney General.

The issues involved are highly sensitive and complex and require very careful deliberation before proposals can be finalised and brought to Government.  It is important to have a more complete awareness of the extent of the problem, the number of people who could potentially be involved the legal implications of any course of action, and an accurate estimate of likely costs before introducing any modifications to the scheme.  

The Department has been criticised for not taking due account of these matters when establishing the residential institutional redress scheme.  For example, the original estimates for the Residential Institutions were based on estimates drawn from known cases of litigations. The estimated figure of some 2,000 case ended up with in excess of 16,000 cases.

It is expected the review will be concluded in the coming months.


Sean O'Donnell
Posted on 21 Jul 2020 2:01 pm (Report this comment)

I am a victim of repeated Child Rape and CSA at the hands of my teacher, in my local Boys National School, Ballymun Road, Dublin 9 in the early 1970's. Day school pupils have been fought, neglected and invalidated by the State for too long.

We were denied access to the Residential Institutions Redress Board (RIRB), our access to the Redress Scheme established in the wake of Louise O'Keefee's ECHR judgement was denied by imposing unjust, unfair and frankly illogical constraints on us by the insistence of a "prior complaint" before one could apply to the scheme. This was effectively impossible given that the State had no procedures or system in place during the 1970's to facilitate the reporting of Child Rape or CSA, as highlighted by the Independent Assesor, retired judge Iarlaith O'Neill in his report of July 2019.

There is a very obvious anomaly in the treatment of different cohorts of victims of Child Rape and CSA as I pointed out to Dr. Ruth Gallager of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) at a recent meeting I had with her. The only way I can highlight the difference in treatment of various cohorts of victims is in a monetary sense despite the fact that primarily most victims are looking for justice, an acknowledgement of what happened and for someone in authority to take responsibility for the horrors we suffered. I highlighted that there was discriminatory and unequal treatment of day school victims as opposed to victims from Residential Institutions. These victims were given access to the RIRB which was subject to a maximum award of €300,000 while day school pupils were denied access. Day school victims were given limited access to the Redress scheme established after Louise O' Keefee's ECHR judgement which was subject to a maximum award of €84,000. The State suggests that they were acting in "loco parentis" to those in Residential Institutions, thus explaining the higher award to applicants of the RIRB. As parents were obliged by the State to send their children to school, I would strongly contend that the State, through the school and the teacher on the payroll of the State, were also acting in "loco parentis" to day school pupils. Dr. Gallagher agreed with my reading of the situation and agreed that it was very important that all victims of such horrendous crimes against children be treated with compassion and understanding in a equal, fair and non-discriminatory manner. Dr. Gallagher insisted that the IHREC would highlight this discrepancy of treatment with the State and all relevant parties going forward.

Child rape is rape is rape, irrespective of whether it occurred in a day school or a Residential Institution. The discriminatory and unequal difference in the treatment of those of us who were raped in day schools as opposed to others effectively suggests that the rapes I was subjected to were somehow less heinous or reprehensible just because I went to a day school. This is morally wrong, in fact I would go further and say that this is shameful!

Therefore, I would strongly urge the Taoiseach Micheal Martin, the Minister for Education Norma Foley and indeed the government to stop procrastinating and finally deal with this scourge of CSA which has put a deep stain on our society, and deal with all victims of Child Rape and CSA in a fair and equal manner. I urge them to do this as a matter of urgency by immediately establishing a new Redress Scheme that is open to all victims of Child Rape / CSA at the hands of State employees subject to the same maximum awards as contained in the RIRB Redress Scheme. To suffer the original rapes and CSA was bad enough but to suffer unfair, discriminatory and unequal treatment just because we went to day schools is wrong! Please do the right thing and fulfill the aspirations of Pearse, Connolly et al in the Proclamation to "treat and cherish all the children of the Nation equally."

Sean O'Donnell

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