Woman challenges Redress Board's refusal to allow claim

A woman who the High Court heard suffered "severe sexual and physical abuse" as a child in a state institution has brought a legal challenge aimed at overturning the Residential Institution Redress Board's refusal to allow her bring a claim for compensation.

A woman who the High Court heard suffered "severe sexual and physical abuse" as a child in a state institution has brought a legal challenge aimed at overturning the Residential Institution Redress Board's refusal to allow her bring a claim for compensation.

The woman delayed in bringing her claim for redress in order to help her mother, who many years earlier had also been abused as a child while in another institution, process her application under the scheme.

Today Mr Justice Michael Peart heard the woman, who cannot be identified for legal purposes, was abused at an institution in Dublin more than 40 years ago. The abuse commenced when she was just three or four years old.

Counsel for the woman Dervla Browne SC said her client and her mother were very close and the effort of dealing with her mother's abuse, which she first learned about in 2004, was too much.

The woman was unable to tell her mother that she had been abused as she feared the detrimental effect such a revelation would have.

The woman was aware of the December 2005 deadline for claims under the scheme. For emotional and psychological reasons she was unable to bring her claim.

She eventually disclosed to her mother and husband in 2008 that she was abused, counsel said. They encouraged her to bring her own claim and she applied to the Board for an extension of time to bring her claim.

However last September the Board informed her that her late application was refused, counsel said.

However Counsel argued that this was an exceptional case, and submitted that the Board's decision to refuse her application was wrong.

In her action the woman is seeking an order quashing the Residential Institutions Redress Board's decision, made last September, to refuse her an extension allowing her make an application for redress.

She is also seeking a declaration from the Court that the Board's refusal is null and void, and an order directing the Board to accept her application.

The challenge has been brought on grounds including that the Board failed to carry out a proper inquiry or to properly take into account the circumstances of her case.

Nor did the board balance the serious nature of the abuse she suffered against the nature of and the reasons for the delay.

The Board, it is alleged, gave no consideration to the nature and the gravity of the abuse suffered by the applicant in deciding whether exceptional circumstances exist.

In arriving at its decision the Board failed to give any proper regard to the fact that both the woman and her mother had been abused in State Institutions which amounted to special and exceptional circumstance, it is also claimed.

Leave to bring the challenge was granted yesterday, on an ex-parte one side only basis, by Mr Justice Peart.

The Judge also made the matter returnable to a date in March.

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