The Department of Education has not made a decision on a redress scheme for those sexually abused in national schools, despite an independent review finding that a condition imposed by the State risks a continued breach of victims’ rights.
A review of 19 applications denied access to an ex-gratia scheme set up to compensate historical sexual abuse survivors has found that a requirement to provide evidence of a prior complaint against an abuser is “inherently illogical”.
The Department of Education has since confirmed it will prioritise payments to 13 of these applicants who were refused from the scheme because they failed to provide evidence of a prior complaint.
However, “no decisions have been taken in respect of the scheme”, said a spokesman for the department.
Cork woman Louise O’Keeffe, whose landmark case led to the scheme being set up in 2015, has called on Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Education Minister Joe McHugh to apologise (Tuesday) in the Dáil to victims denied access to the scheme, and for the delay in processing payments.
The findings of the independent review show that the State should drop the condition of a prior complaint for all applicants to the ex gratia scheme, not just the cases considered by the assessor, according to Conor O’Mahony, director of the Child Law Clinic at University College Cork.
“It is crystal clear from the conclusions of the assessor’s decision that this is required,” said Dr O’Mahony. “Any attempt by the Government to limit the implications of this decision to a handful of applicants would be a flagrant violation of international human rights law.”
There are between 300 and 400 known victims who were abused in schools where child protection procedures were found to be defective in the Louise O’Keeffe case, he added.