O'Keeffe ruling offers hope to victims

‘I was by no means the first person to report this 30 years ago,’ says Tim O'Rourke, who was abused by teacher

Abuse reported to the Department of Education in the early 1980s. Photograph: Eric Luke

Abuse reported to the Department of Education in the early 1980s. Photograph: Eric Luke

 


Tim O’Rourke was sexually abused by a teacher and is one of several dozen, perhaps several hundred, similar abuse victims for whom yesterday’s victory by Louise O’Keeffe at the European Court of Human Rights brings renewed hope of vindication by the State.

Mr O’Rourke was abused by a teacher, Donal Dunne, while attending Walsh Island National School in Co Offaly. Dunne, identified in the Ryan report into child abuse as John Brander, is now dead but was prosecuted three times, was convicted and sent to jail.

Dunne was a Christian Brother who abused children repeatedly as he was moved from Christian Brothers school to Christian Brothers school, and also while a teacher at national schools in Dublin, Longford, Laois and Offaly.

Mr O’Rourke was abused by Dunne in the mid-1960s. “I reported this, along with many others,” he says, but nothing was done.

Mr O’Rourke, who is now 58 and himself a retired teacher, reported the abuse to the Department of Education in the early 1980s. He also reported it to Cardinal Tomás Ó Fiaich, his local bishop, as well as numerous TDs and Senators.

“I was by no means the first person to report this 30 years ago,” he said yesterday, adding, however: “I got nowhere.” Dunne was still teaching at the time.


‘Get lost attitude’
When the redress board compensation system was set up after the Ryan report, Mr O’Rourke was one of a number of victims, at that time numbering over 300, whom the government deemed excluded from its remit. Those who challenged this and took legal actions against the State were warned in writing that they would be pursued for costs if they lost. Many felt intimidated and withdrew.

Says Mr O’Rourke: “It’s the bullying and the ‘get lost attitude’ down the decades [that upsets].”