Abuse survivors demand access to redress scheme

Dáil to vote today on whether to expand scheme set up following O’Keeffe judgment

 

A group of men who were sexually abused in schools as children gathered at Leinster House on Wednesday ahead of a Dáil debate on whether the State is liable for their abuse.

In 2014 Louise O’Keeffe brought a case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) which found the State had a duty of care towards her when she was abused at her Kinsale school in 1973 and that it was liable for what she suffered.

The State agreed to set up a redress scheme which would make settlements of up to €84,000 to people with cases similar to Ms O’Keeffe’s.

However, the scheme was limited to cases where there had been a prior complaint against the abuser, ie that someone else had made a complaint against them which wasn’t acted upon.

John Allen and several other abuse survivors are campaigning to have the “prior complaint” clause dropped from the redress scheme.

On Monday evening Mr Allen and members of his campaign group, Victims of Child Abuse in Day Schools (VOCADS), met politicians including Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and Minister for State for Disability Finian McGrath ahead of a debate on the issue.

Convicted abusers

VOCADS represents survivors of abuse in schools whose abusers have been convicted.

The Dáil will vote on Thursday on whether to remove the clause from the scheme which would open the way for about 180 people to seek redress.

The Government argues they cannot dispense with the prior complaint clause as it was set by the ECHR following the O’Keeffe case.

“The prior complaint puts the onus on me to show someone else was abused before me,” Mr Allen said.

Campaigners argue the Carrigan Report in 1931 demonstrated to the Government that sexual abuse was rife in schools and that this qualified as “prior complaint”.

Mr Allen said he was confident of winning the vote. “The fear is they won’t implement it.

“The State, instead of standing next to us, have stood in front of us and blocked us and said we will not vindicate your constitutional right under Article 40, the right to bodily integrity.”