Questions on Promised Legislation (access to the redress scheme in the context of child abuse in primary schools)
Deputy Micheál Martin: In the context of the recent Cervical Check scandal and litigation, the Government has been at pains to point out that it does not wish to take an adversarial approach to victims of State institutions. However, I recently met the Minister for Education and Skills, Deputy Richard Bruton, to discuss the cases of Mr. John Allen and a number of other men from Limerick who had been pursuing the Government for access to the redress scheme in the context of child abuse in primary schools.
These are individuals about whom there is no issue in terms of their having been abused in primary schools. The paedophiles concerned have been convicted by the criminal justice system and are in prison. Louise O’Keeffe had to go the whole way to the European Court of Human Rights to get justice in her case, and I hasten to add, previous Governments of which I was a member were wrong in that respect. We are now on the cusp of John Allen and others having to go back again to the European Court of Human Rights to get access to the redress scheme. They have been to the High Court and the Supreme Court and they have been harassed the whole way by the State and threatened with costs. In the midst of all the justifiable angst all week, meanwhile, parallel to all of that, the UCC legal department and others are assisting these victims of abuse because of a very limited interpretation—–
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy is way in excess of the time allocated to him.
Deputy Micheál Martin: —by the Government of the Louise O’Keeffe judgment in terms of prior complaint. Standing back from it the Minister must know this is morally wrong, that we are going to force these men to go all the way to Europe to get clarification on the Louise O’Keeffe decision because of the Government’s adversarial approach.
Richard Bruton T.D. Minister for Education and Skills: The position is that as a result of the Louise O’Keeffe case and the subsequent ruling the Government set up an ex gratia payment scheme to make payments to people who were in a similar category to her. People have applied to the scheme and some have been successful while others have been refused. I have appointed an independent assessor, Mr. Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill, who will independently assess applications that have been refused and where people appeal. I understand he is currently assessing both the case made to him and by the State as to whether those refusals were validly made. He is assessing that information and we are awaiting his decisions.