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O’Brien says Government needs to rethink redress scheme

17 December, 2014 - by Jonathan O'Brien TD

Speaking following the announcement that proposals have been approved by the Minister for Education Jan O’Sullivan for a redress scheme for victims of child sexual abuse in schools settings, Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Jonathan O’Brien TD has described the scheme as unacceptable. Deputy O’Brien is calling on the government to go back to the drawing board and come up with something that is victim centred and based in fairness.

The Cork North Central TD said:

“The government’s response to cases like Louise O’Keeffe’s where the state failed to protect children in school settings has been found wanting.

“They have done the absolute bare minimum in coming up with a redress scheme, and have set the maximum amount a victim can receive as €84,000 which is substantially lower than the rate of settlement in the institutional abuse scheme.

“The terms of the scheme are so narrowly set that they have unnecessarily stipulated that it will only apply to cases where abuse had been reported and the schools failed to act.

“This means that you could have a situation where a person may have been abused by a person but was too afraid to report it and they will not come under the remit of this scheme. It is essentially an exercise in large scale victim blaming by the state.

“The Department of Education frightened up to 90 people in to withdrawing their cases last year by saying they would be liable for legal costs in unsuccessful actions – it is no way to treat victims.

“Jan O’Sullivan is at pains to point out how people can sue other bodies such as school patrons, religious orders and the abusers themselves and clearly the motivation behind this redress scheme is the money.

“The victims of abuse in schools are now being penalised for the failure of religious orders to pay their share of redress for victims of institutional abuse.

“Jan O’Sullivan should not be penalising the victims of abuse in schools for the state’s failures.”

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