Victims of school abuse ‘fobbed off ’, says Martin
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