€3.6m paid to child sex abuse victims by State Claims Agency since 2008, minister says

€3.6m paid to child sex abuse victims by State Claims Agency since 2008, minister says
Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe.

By Gordon Deegan

The State Claims Agency (SCA) has paid out €3.6m on behalf of the State to child sex abuse victims concerning 587 separate claims of historical child sex abuse since 2008.

That is according to figures provided by the Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe, who confirmed that €653,930 was paid out by the SCA to child sex abuse victims last year and that this was a 14-fold increase on the €45,000 paid out in 2016.

The €653,930 in respect of 39 cases last year was the highest payout since 2010 when €715,500 was paid out.

Zero damages were paid out in 2013 in spite of 33 being finalised that year.

Minister Donohoe said: “In a significant number of historic abuse cases, the State has no legal liability to the Plaintiffs and it is not uncommon for such cases to be resolved with no damages payments being made by the State.

In his written Dáil reply to Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan, Minister Donohoe said: “This accounts for the lack of damages paid in 2013.”

In a separate reply to Deputy Quinlivan, Minister Donohoe said that there are currently 287 claims pending at the SCA concerning historical sex abuse.

Minister Donohoe said that historical sex abuse cases are assumed to have taken place before 2000 or earlier.

Providing a breakdown of the claims, Minister Donohoe said that 116 are against ‘day schools’; 110 against the HSE; 31 against TUSLA; 13 against the Dept of Justice, An Garda Siochána, Irish Prison Service and Courts Service; 12 against residential institutions and five against children’s detention schools.

Swine flu

Separately, Minister for Health, Simon Harris confirmed to People Before Profit Alliance TD, Deputy Gino Kenny, that 70 individuals have instituted legal proceedings against the his office, the HSE and GlaxoSmithKline Biological SA concerning the administration of the H1N1 pandemic ‘swine flu’ vaccine.

According to Minister Harris: “The plaintiffs allege personal injury in which they claim the development of narcolepsy resulted from the administration of the H1N1 pandemic vaccine.

Minister for Health Simon Harris.
Minister for Health Simon Harris.

He said: “I have been informed by the Agency that the cases are before the courts in relation to the management of discovery in the lead case. It would not be appropriate for a Minister to interfere in the courts case management of these claims which are delegated to the SCA for management.|

He added: “With regard to the broader issue, I am continuing to engage with the Minister for Justice and the Minister for Finance on what further improvements can be made to the legal framework governing the management of medical negligence cases.”

Last week, Minister Donohoe presented figures in a written Dáil reply to Deputy Roisín Shorthall which show the soaring costs of dealing with medical negligence cases over the past five years has helped push the bill at the SCA (SCA) across all claims, medical and general, to over €1.68bn since its inception in 2001.

The role of the SCA is currently under the spotlight as a result of the High Court action taken terminally ill Co Limerick woman Vicky Phelan against the HSE and a US lab where the SCA represented the HSE’s interests in the court case and eventual court settlement.

Since its inception in 2001, the SCA has paid out €1.683bn - or on average of over €96m a year - in damages, legal costs and expert costs in response to general and medical claims.

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