I raise a significant and very serious legacy issue affecting the State. It is one which, in many ways, informs how we continue to approach victims of sexual abuse. In the last number of weeks, we have, rightly, had very significant coverage of the mother and baby home scandal, the way in which single women were treated and the absence of any human response to that. At the same time that we have this outrage, however, the State is behaving in an appalling manner regarding those who were victims of child sexual abuse in primary schools and who have not had any or any significant redress. What many of these victims have gone through is shocking. I have met on a number of occasions an individual I can name, John Allen, who was sexually abused by a Christian Brother. For 17 years, he has tried to seek justice. He is living in a council house and his parents are in care. He is in very difficult financial circumstances and suffering from a chronic disease. He has had huge anxiety and trauma as a result of this. He has been dragged through the courts. There are many other victims as well. Deputy O'Dea has raised this issue in respect of 15 victims who are in a similar situation and have come to him about it. I raised this issue with the Taoiseach in October last.
The State fought against culpability for a long time on this one. Louise O'Keeffe had a major breakthrough in the European Court of Human Rights in 2014. I do this in a non-political way because all previous Governments are culpable in terms of fighting that up to 2014. It is since 2014 that we have had a bogus interpretation and application of the Louise O'Keeffe judgment to the victims which is just shocking, in particular in terms of this idea of a prior complaint. How in the name of God is a child supposed to know whether someone complained to a school manager about an abuser? Nevertheless, that is the litmus test for access to the redress scheme. It is cynical beyond belief. Likewise, it is clearly designed as a ready-up to limit access to the scheme. Many of the victims are in a very poor financial state and some have suicidal ideation because of the trauma that has been visited on them. They have been to the Supreme Court and back and to the High Court and back. They can no longer get redress in our courts notwithstanding the European Court of Human Rights.
I have met with Dr. Conor O'Mahony of the UCC child law clinic to go through this with him and a case is now being prepared to go back to the ECHR. We had all the outrage of two weeks ago, but this is all going on under our noses while the Government resists a proper, humane response. Are we seriously saying to these victims, notwithstanding the breakthrough judgment in the case of Louise O'Keeffe, that they will have to go back to the ECHR to get proper application of that judgment? I put it to the Taoiseach that the State needs to engage very quickly and very proactively on this and stop adding insult to the injury of victims of child sexual abuse in our primary schools.