Gardaí and the Department of Justice have rejected Sinn Féin claims that they sat on an inquiry into sex abuse allegations against a Gaeltacht teacher.
Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald made the allegation against justice authorities yesterday in the Dáil saying that victims of Domhnall Ó Lubhlaí — now deceased — had been left facing a “brick wall” looking for the truth.
But claims of a history of sex abuse in the Republican movement itself ended up fuelling a row between Ms McDonald’s party and the Ceann Comhairle which resulted in proceedings being suspended three times.
Sinn Féin were angered by remarks made by Tánaiste Joan Burton after she was asked about the garda inquiry.
A TG4 documentary last year provoked claims that the teacher could have abused dozens of boys over two decades. He died last year.
“Victims feel very let down by the gardaí and indeed by the criminal justice system,” said Ms McDonald.
She said a victim, Gearóid Ó Concubhair, was 13 when he was abused and had asked her to raise his case in the Dáil.
She claimed an internal garda review of cases completed under Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan, while she was interim chief, had been with Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald since July.
Furthermore, victims were told the review was complete but no copies would be made available to them, she said.
She also said the child and family agency Tusla was frustrated in its attempt to investigate the abuse claims.
But Ms Fitzgerald’s office strenuously denied the claims and said it was “incorrect” to suggest her department had yet to forward information to Tusla to allow it to pursue its investigation.
Gardaí last night also said victims were “fully informed” of the results of the review in July and there was ongoing contact with them. The Garda Press Office added: “The results of the review were received at the Commissioner’s office on 27th July 2014 and the file was reviewed and sent back to the unit conducting the review on the 4th August 2014 for appropriate follow up.”
But in the Dáil, Ms McDonald claimed other state agencies, including the Departments of Education and the Gaeltacht and the HSE, had failed the victims.
Tánaiste Burton highlighted ongoing questions around how Sinn Féin and republicans had themselves handled claims of sex abuse.
She said Sinn Féin’s response to rape victim Mairia Cahill “left a lot to be desired.” She said Mr Ó Lubhlaí had been “a significant republican figure” and was described in the media as “a paedophile rapist on a very significant scale in relation to children who came under his care and attention.”
She then added: “We know from acknowledgments by your party that there has been a problem of paedophilia and sex abuse, particularly of children, in the republican movement.”
The comments sparked a row among Sinn Féin TDs and Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett and the Dáil was suspended three times amid calls for Ms Burton to withdraw her remarks.
But Mr Barrett said that no defamatory remarks had been made about Sinn Féin.
A victim of Ó Lubhlaí told Raidió na Gaeltachta last night that the Government should release all details it had on the abuse claims and that compensation should be paid to victims.