Day school abuse victims receive little compensation

CHILDREN sexually abused in day schools have received little compensation from the State, with just five payments made out of 141 cases in the past three years.

The State Claims Agency (SCA), which handles the compensation claims, paid out just €273,244 in “resolving” all 141 cases since 2007 with most of the money spent on legal fees.

SCA director Ciaran Breen said a further 122 outstanding claims lodged by day school sex abuse victims were unlikely to receive any compensation.

Of the five settlements, the State picked up 30% of the tab and the religious congregation at the school in question paid the remainder. The SCA payments relate to one school.

Mr Breen said the State’s contribution was minor in all five cases. Payment was made when the State acknowledged abuse had taken place and it had a clear liability. A spokesperson for the SCA said in the overwhelming number of cases, there was no State knowledge of abuse and, therefore, no liability.

By comparison, child victims of residential institution abuse received payouts totalling €2.3 million in 94 cases resolved since 2007 by the SCA. The money includes compensation and legal costs for both sides. All claims were settled out of court. Victims of residential institution abuse also have the option of seeking compensation through the Residential Institution Redress Board or the High Court.

However, victims of day school sex abuse are currently deterred from going to the High Court after the Supreme Court ruled last December that the State could not be held “vicariously liable” for a series of sexual assaults by a national school principal on an eight-year-old girl pupil.

The case against the State was taken by mother-of-two Louise O’Keeffe, who successfully sued her former principal Leo Hickey for abusing her on over 20 occasions while at Dunderrow National School, Co Cork, in the 1970s.

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