Wednesday, 3 November 2021
Department of Education and Skills
111. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills when the new scheme for compensation of persons historically abused in primary schools became operational; the details of the scheme; the location in which applications can be lodged; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [53450/21]
A revised ex gratia scheme to implement the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) judgement relating to childhood sexual abuse in day schools is now open for applications. The Scheme, which was developed in consultation with the Office of the Attorney General, provides for ex gratia payments to be made to those who qualify to apply for the Scheme and who satisfy the criteria as set out in the Terms of Scheme.
The ex gratia scheme was originally established in 2015 and was put in place to provide those, who had instituted legal proceedings against the State in respect of day school sexual abuse and subsequently discontinued those proceedings following rulings in the domestic courts, with an opportunity to apply for an ex gratia payment. The Scheme was paused in 2019 following a report from retired High Court Judge Iarfhlaith O’Neill who, as Independent Assessor, reviewed a number of unsuccessful applications to the Scheme and was of the view that the criteria to qualify for a payment were too restrictive for this group of applicants. The revised scheme opened for applications on July 21st 2021. 33 payments have issued so far.
Full details of the terms of the Scheme are available on www.gov.ie/en/service/90a42-revised-ex-gratia-scheme/. Contact details for my Department for those wishing to apply to the scheme who require any clarification or information are provided.
Ireland is committed to fulfilling its obligations in implementing the ECtHR ruling. This means that the revised scheme is designed first and foremost to provide a remedy to those who had issued and discontinued their proceedings against the State prior to the ECtHR ruling in O'Keeffe v Irelandand who did not receive a payment under the 2015 Scheme. However, the revised scheme goes beyond that group in that all others who issued legal proceedings against the State at a later date and up to 1 July 2021, whether they are still in being, were discontinued at any point, or who had settled with the State, may also apply for an award.
As well as broadening the scope of the Scheme, the type and nature of evidence that will be considered by the State Claims Agency in respect of individual applications (and as set out in the Terms of Scheme) broadens the means through which an applicant can demonstrate that they fall within the terms of the ECtHR judgment.
Overall, €31m has been allocated for the scheme.