‘For the last 17 years I’ve been looking to vindicate myself’

Corkman speaks out about State continuing to deny liability in school sex abuse case

‘For the last 17 years I’ve been looking to vindicate myself’

John Allen was sexually abused as a child in the 1970s in North Monastery Primary School in Cork City.

However, despite a 2014 ruling from the European Court of Human Rights against the Government, the State continues to deny any liability in relation to Mr Allen’s case.

“How long do you have to keep fighting? I’m tired of it. I’d like somebody to acknowledge 1971 and say, ‘Yeah John, we understand what happened you there’,” he told the Irish Examiner yesterday.

Mr Allen, 53, has been fighting for 17 years for his right to sue the Department of Education for failing to protect him while at school.

In May the High Court found that he could not sue the State. Yesterday the State decided it was not going to pursue him for costs associated with the trial, even though this action was previously threatened.

“Look, you’ve one life, I’ll be 54 next month so that’s a third of my life so far that’s fighting this issue,” he said outside the High Court yesterday.

In 2004, his abuser, Garry Creevey, a former Christian Brother, was found guilty of indecently assaulting him in 1971. Since then he has been found guilty of similar offences.

This is the first interview Mr Allen, from Fairhill, Cork City, has given in relation to his abuse, after he allowed his name to be used publicly earlier this month.

“For the last 17 years I’ve been looking to vindicate myself and look for justice and so far it’s unsuccessful. All I ask for is justice,” he said after the High Court had decided not to award costs against him.

“As of present under article 3 and 13 [of the European Convention on Human Rights] my human rights are actually in violation, so I want those human rights addressed.

“In many senses they [survivors] don’t realise their way of thinking and how it affects issues in relation to trust and many, many others like intimacy and figures of authority.

“For many, many years, I was, let’s say under the cosh of something. I didn’t realise what was going on.”

Mr Allen said: “There’s a picture here of myself when I was nine years of age, in essence it looks like me as an adult fighting for that child, because I remember the hurt as a nine-year-old child to this day.”

Former Christian Brother Garry Creevey was found guilty of indecently assaulting Mr Allen

Former Christian Brother Garry Creevey was found guilty of indecently assaulting Mr Allen

Mr Allen said that, above all else, counselling is what survivors need and that anyone in his position should speak out and seek help.

“I find it quite unbelievable” that the State continues to fight his case, he said.

“It’s hurtful. I know other survivors. They suffered deeply. There are a lot of people who deal with it in different ways but nobody is immune to hurt,” said Mr Allen said.

He said his life has been impacted greatly by what happened to him as a child.

“There was a report a number of years ago by Professor Alan Barrett, director of the ESRI [Economic and Social Research Institute]. He quantified the economic effects on survivors and the effects that it has upon them,” he said.

Mr Allen said Irish politicians need to look at human rights violations closer to home, as well as addressing them abroad.

“Our representatives go abroad and they raise issues in China and in Turkey just recently — and yes, it’s correct, it’s correct for our political people to raise these issues, but we need to look at these issues here at home. Ireland needs to put a mirror up to itself.”

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