A 58-year-old man can have his claim for compensation over abuse he says he suffered as a child in an industrial school reconsidered by the Residential Institutions Redress Board, the Court of Appeal has ruled.
Mr Justice Gerard Hogan, on behalf of the three-judge Appeal Court, yesterday quashed a High Court decision agreeing with the Redress Board that the man had applied too late under the compensation scheme.
The board had refused to extend time for him to apply because he had not established exceptional circumstances, as required by the 2002 law which set up the redress system.
The man claimed he had not applied in time because he was illiterate and drank heavily between 2002 and 2005. While aware from TV and radio of various controversies associated with child sex abuse, he assumed they were exclusively associated with sexual abuse by the clergy.
He had lived as a boy in St Kieran’s Industrial School where he says he suffered the abuse.
He said he only became aware of his possible entitlement when his girlfriend saw an advertisement from a local solicitor in September 2011, which was just immediately before the cut-off date for applications to the redress board.
Mr Justice Hogan said at the heart of the man’s claim was the refusal to extend time was based on the wrong premise of an interpretation of the words “exceptional circumstances”, as contained in Section 8(2) of the 2002 Residential Institutions Redress Board Act.
Mr Justice Hogan said a recent Supreme Court decision found the power to extend time should be given “a wide and liberal interpretation.” A person seeking a time extension need only demonstrate the existence of exceptional circumstances in its plainest terms, the judge said.
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