Vic­tims of school abuse ‘fobbed off ’, says Martin

The Irish Mail on Sunday - - COMMENT - By John Dren­nan news@mailon­sun­day.ie

VIC­TIMS of his­toric sex­ual abuse in State schools are be­ing ‘fobbed off’ by the Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion, ac­cord­ing to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.

Mr Martin was re­spond­ing to rev­e­la­tions that the State Claims Agency has re­jected 90% of abuse claims.

The SCA is re­spon­si­ble for com­pen­sa­tion in his­toric cases of sex­ual abuse in schools. This fol­lows a land­mark 2014 Euro­pean Court of Hu­man Rights de­ci­sion in the Louise O’Ke­effe case, which found the State was li­able to com­pen­sate vic­tims abused by State em­ploy­ees.

Ms O’Ke­effe took the State to the Euro­pean court claim­ing the state had been neg­li­gent in fail­ing to pro­tect

‘Con­se­quences of abuse have lin­gered for years ’

her from be­ing abused by her national school prin­ci­pal when she was eight years old in 1973.

Her case had been thrown out by the High Court and Supreme Court.

Twelve months af­ter the rul­ing, the Govern­ment said it would make outof-court set­tle­ments. How­ever, fig­ures re­leased by Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Richard Bru­ton, in re­sponse to the queries from the Fianna Fáil leader, re­veal that the SCA ‘has re­ceived 49 ap­pli­ca­tions of which 44 [90%] have been de­clined’.

Re­ply­ing, Mr Bru­ton said the Govern­ment had agreed to re­spond to al­leged vic­tims whose le­gal pro­ceed­ings had been dis­con­tin­ued prior to the land­mark rul­ing be­cause of SCA threats to pur­sue lit­i­gants for le­gal costs. The min­is­ter said the agency would ‘con­tinue to en­gage with claimants’ so­lic­i­tors’ and make set­tle­ment of­fers where claims come within the terms of the Euro­pean Court judg­ment and are not statute-barred’.

‘Per­sons who be­lieve their cases come within the cri­te­ria can con­tact the State Claims Agency and pro­vide sup­port­ing ev­i­dence,’ he added.

But Mr Martin dis­missed his of­fer as ‘an­other fob-off’ that ‘made the vic­tims an­grier’.

‘It is not just the Vat­i­can that has wronged the vic­tims of child sex abuse. The State has also got to face its re­spon­si­bil­i­ties.’

Mr Bru­ton said: ‘All the ap­pli­ca­tions that were de­clined were ad­vised that they could ap­ply to Mr Jus­tice Iarfh­laith O’Neill, the in­de­pen­dent as­ses­sor I ap­pointed in Novem­ber 2017, for an in­de­pen­dent assess­ment of their ap­pli­ca­tion.’

How­ever, just 21 peo­ple have ap­plied for this assess­ment, ac­cord­ing to the op­po­si­tion, which it said in­di­cates the lack of faith among vic­tims in the bona fides of the Govern­ment’s of­fer.

land­mark case: Abuse vic­tim Louise O’Ke­effe took case to Europe

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