Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 30 Jun 1999

Vol. 507 No. 3

Written Answers. - Child Abuse.

Róisín Shortall


200 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will establish an inquiry to ascertain the facts and to make recommendations in the cases of sexual abuse carried out on students by a retired teacher (details supplied). [16892/99]

Róisín Shortall


201 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Edu cation and Science if, further to previous parliamentary questions regarding the case of a former teacher convicted of sexual abuse (details supplied), his attention has been drawn to any report or statement by a member of the Department's inspectorate concerning allegations of abuse made by a victim in this case; the content of this report or statement; when it was made; the action, if any, taken in view of these allegations made to a member of the inspectorate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16893/99]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 200 and 201 together.

The Deputy will be aware of the package of measures announced by the Government to help people who were victims of abuse in childhood, including a commission to inquire into instances of abuse such as referred to by the Deputy in her questions. This commission, which is to be chaired by Ms Justice Mary Laffoy of the High Court, has wide terms of reference to inquire generally into the causes, nature and extent of abuse of children. The commission will be given whatever statutory powers and protections it will need to carry out those terms effectively.

The abuse suffered by the victims of the teacher concerned regrettably mirror the experience of many other people. I am satisfied that the commission, given its composition, wide remit and the fact that it will be provided with the statutory powers it needs, will be in the best position to carry out inquiries into this particular case, together with inquiries relating to other similar cases of abuse. It will be open to the victims in this case to approach the commission and the Taoiseach has given an assurance on behalf of all arms of Government that full and absolute cooperation will be given to the commission.

I am aware of a statement made by a member of my Department's inspectorate concerning this case. The statement was made on the 16th March, 1999 to the Secretary General of my Department. It was based on the inspector's recollection of events, as he did not have any notes or record of the matters to which it referred. In the statement the inspector recalled that a person had visited him at his home some years ago and informed him that he had been abused years previously while he was a child in primary school by the teacher concerned; that the teacher would soon retire with an unblemished record and that the victim had in the past written a letter of complaint to the Department and had written to or visited either the then Deputies Michael Keating or John Boland or both.

The inspector stated that he advised the person concerned to inform, in writing, the post-primary administration section of the Department of Education and Science as the teacher in question was then working in a secondary school. The inspector informed the person that a signed written complaint would be investigated by the Depart ment and he outlined what typically happened, in his experience, when such complaints were received. In his report on this matter the Inspector states that he believed that the victim had come to him so that he could be properly advised as to how his allegations should be advanced for investigation by the Department . The inspector understood that the meeting was a private meeting and that the person concerned did not wish him personally to take action on the allegations. He believed that he had advised him correctly and had been of help to him in clarifying how the person concerned would himself raise the matter with the Department. There is no record in my Department of the person concerned having contacted my Department following this meeting.
In view of the belief of the inspector that the meeting was a private matter I wrote to the person concerned and attached a copy of the statement. I also informed him that I would, with his permission, bring the statement to the attention of members of the Oireachtas interested in this case. While in response to this question I have outlined the main elements of the statement, I consider it appropriate, given the private nature of the meeting, that the person concerned should consent to the more general availability of the statement itself.