Thursday, 3 June 2021
Department of Education and Skills
300. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the arrangements in place to pay redress to persons who were abused as children in schools in the past in line with rulings in the case of a person (details supplied); the amount paid out to date in compensation; if applications for compensation are being still accepted; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30378/21]
As you are aware, the ex gratia scheme was established on foot of the specific circumstances arising from and in response to the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) relating to Louise O'Keeffe.
The Department undertook to review the scheme in response to a determination by the Independent Assessor, Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill that one of the criteria for eligibility is incompatible with the ECtHR judgement.
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.
Officials from my Department are closely engaged with officials from the Attorney General’s office to work through these complex matters. This work has now been significantly advanced, following some unavoidable delays due to the Covid-19 pandemic. A proposal for a revised scheme is now being finalised for legal advice in consultation with officials in the Office of the Attorney General and following this, the proposal will be considered by Government.
Pending completion of the review no new applications to the scheme are being accepted.
Payments have been made to a number of victims of child sexual abuse in day schools on foot of the assessments made by the Independent Assessor to the ex gratia scheme, Mr. Justice Iarfhlaith O'Neill.
The current position is that sixteen offers of payment of €84,000 have been made and all sixteen have been accepted.