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Gardaí examining new allegations of sexual and physical abuse at school

Micheál Martin said the abuse happened as recently as 2006.

Image: Shutterstock/Dennis Steen

AN GARDA SÍOCHÁNA and Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, are examining allegations of sexual and physical abuse at a country school, the Dáil heard today.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin raised the issue during Leaders’ Questions, criticising how the Department of Education handled the claims.

In September 2014, a report by the Children’s Ombudsman found that the department failed to assist the board of management at the school and didn’t respond when the HSE alerted it that the clinical psychologist involved “was quite concerned with regard to corporal punishment at the school”.

Martin said further allegations have been received, and gardaí are renewing their investigations.

The report found that, for much of the period under investigation, “allegations of physical abuse were miscategorised as corporal punishment”. It said the HSE should have investifated this, but failed to do so.

Martin said the child who made the allegations wrote to the Taoiseach on 17 November.

The Fianna Fáil leader described the report as “a damning indictment of the manner in which the response to the complaint was administered by the board of management, the HSE and the then Department of Education and Science”.

“This occurred in 2005-06, not 50, 30 or 20 years ago,” Martin stated.

He also read out a section from the report that quoted the school’s Stay Safe Programme:

The Stay Safe Programme has been approved by the board of management as a teacher’s aid to be used in accordance with the Catholic ethos which demands that the law of God and of the church and not the child’s feelings be the guiding principle.

Martin said there are “fundamental questions to be answered by the three bodies concerned”, adding he was “alarmed” by the Department of Education’s “failure” to respond “in any shape or form to the Ombudsman’s report of September 2014″.


Enda Kenny described the situation as “a personal and sensitive matter”.

He said he was “aware of the implications of the Ombudsman’s report”, but wanted to wanted to wait until the finalisation of the Tusla investigation “before making any judgement”.

“The Ombudsman is independent in its functions. As I said, the Garda, Departments of Health, Education and Skills and Justice and Equality, the parents and Tusla are involved in an investigation of this matter.

I cannot answer for the Minister for Education and Skills and, having not met the parents, I am not aware of the details or circumstances surrounding the case.

The Taoiseach said he would get back to Martin “following clarity on the matter from Tusla”.

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Órla Ryan

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