210 cases of child sex abuse in schools eligible for compensation scheme

210 cases of child sex abuse in schools eligible for compensation scheme

Some 210 cases of alleged child sex abuse in schools are eligible for compensation under a Department of Education scheme.

According to the Irish Times, the State Claims Agency has identified the cases, in which each person is entitled to up to €840,000, or a total cost of up to €17.6m.

The scheme was set up after the European Court of Human Rights ruled in January last year that the state was liable for abuse by Louise O'Keeffe's teacher Leo Hickey at Dunderrow School in west Cork in the 1970s, when Ms O'Keeffe was eight.

Read: Louise O'Keefe wins case at European Court over childhood abuse

Survivors can only qualify for compensation where it is shown that school authorities failed to take action after a complaint of abuse.

Ms O’Keeffe and other abuse survivors have criticised the scheme's scope. It only applies to abuse that happened before 1991, in which year child protection measures were brought in.

Leo Hickey was charged with 386 criminal offences of sexual abuse involving 21 former pupils of the school, near Kinsale, Co Cork.

In 1998 he pleaded guilty to 21 sample charges and was sentenced to three years in jail.

The European court found that Ireland’s system of detection and reporting of abuse was ineffective in the 1970s as it allowed more than 400 incidents of abuse over such a long period.

It said if adequate action had been taken in 1971 when the first complaint against Hickey was made, Ms O’Keeffe might have not been abused by him.

Ms O’Keeffe said: "We know from the Ryan Report that the State were aware of sexual abuse going on and are aware that young children of that time did not have the know-how nor the language of what to do, who to go to or what to say."


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