Tusla expects increase in reports of historical abuse in schools

Survivors organisation One in Four predicts coming ‘flood’ of disclosures of past abuse to Tusla

Tusla, the child and family agency, is preparing for an increase in reports of historical child sex abuse following revelations linked to boarding schools run by religious orders.

The Government is currently considering options for an inquiry into abuse in schools, with discussions ongoing about whether it would be limited to schools run by the Spiritan congregation or extended more widely.

Speaking on Tuesday, Tusla chief executive Bernard Gloster said the agency was anticipating an increase in reports of alleged historical abuse in schools as a result of “what has been reported in recent weeks”.

“We would expect that increase as people move into counselling and therapy, where they make disclosures and those disclosures are subsequently referred onward to us. Of course people can self-refer to us as well,” he said.

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Previous events that received significant media attention “do tend to trigger instances of increased reporting” to the agency, he said.

“It wouldn’t be of surprise to us to see an increase of referrals,” he said.

Tusla is tasked with investigating reports of alleged child abuse it receives to determine if there is any risk to current children. Mr Gloster was speaking at the launch of abuse survivors support organisation One in Four’s annual report.

Maeve Lewis, chief executive of One in Four, said she believed there would likely be a “flood” of reports to Tusla about past abuse in schools.

The organisation had been receiving on average 20 calls a day from adults reporting being abused as children in schools in the past three weeks.

The alleged abuse related to schools run by the Spiritan congregation, such as Blackrock College, St Michael’s College and Rockwell College, as well as fee-paying schools run by the Dominican order, the Vincentians and the Jesuits.

One in Four has called for any proposed inquiry launched by the State into the abuse to not be confined to schools run by the Spiritans.

Scores of further alleged victims have come forward to report being abused in Spiritan schools, following an RTÉ Radio 1 documentary in early November, where two brothers spoke about being abused by priests in Blackrock College during the 1970s.

Minister for Education Norma Foley is expected to brief ministerial colleagues at a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, on current discussions within Government about a possible inquiry, and what form it might take.

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is a reporter with The Irish Times