Images (featuring weapons assembled from the characters of Chinese words) from the opening animation of Words Can Be Weapons – a video series on verbal bullying and abuse by the Centre For Psychological Research, Shenyang.
Watch it here.
Above: Sunday Times journalist Justine McCarthy (above) on Tonight With Vincent Browne last night and (centre) former Children’s Ombudsman Emily Logan
You may recall a post from last September regarding a report by the Children’s Ombudsman into allegations of physical and sexual at an unidentified primary school in Co. Kilkenny.
The school’s child-abuse prevention policy which applied at the time of the alleged abuse states:
“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.”.”
Further to this, Ms McCarthy spoke about the case on Tonight With Vincent Browne last night.
Her appearance followed Fianna Fáil leader Mícheal Martin raising the matter with Taoiseach Enda Kenny during Leaders’ Questions yesterday in which he claimed the Education Minister and the Department of Education have refused to meet with the parents of the children concerned.
Ms McCarthy told viewers:
“In 2006, a child came home from her rural school in Co. Kilkenny and she had a bruise on her arm and when her parents asked, ‘what had happened?’, she said that, ‘a teacher had done it’.
This was the start of what turned out to be a series of disclosures by children, 10 children, aged mostly 5 and 6, who were in a national school, against 3 female teachers in their school.
They alleged that all three had been physically abusive and that two of the teachers had been sexually abusive. The parents contacted the school and, to this day, they really have got no proper response.”
The allegations were investigated by the guards and the HSE and the Board of Management in the school also investigated them. The Children’s Ombudsman, Emily Logan, the first Children’s Ombudsman, she never actually published this report.
She released it to the relevant parties on the day that she left the job as Children’s Ombudsman. The reason it took five years to complete that report is that it was blighted by legal considerations. First of all, the need to keep the identities of children private. But, secondly, because there are serious issues about people’s reputations. And I have to make it clear that these are just allegations.
But the Children’s Ombudsman found very serious, made very serious findings in relation to the HSE and the school found that these allegations were never, in effect, investigated because they were never properly investigated.
Now the report was released to the school, to the Department of Education and to [child and family agency] Tusla and they were all given time to respond to it. That time is up. I believe that the Tusla and the department have responded.
I wrote a story myself some time ago that the chairman of the board of management, who is a priest, held a meeting with the parents of the children who are currently in the school and told them that the report [Children’s Ombudsman’s report] is riddled with errors, he wants it withdrawn and an apology made.
Since this all happened, new complainants and new allegations emerged. These are now being investigated by the guards on Harcourt Square in Dublin. There’s a more serious attitude being taken this time.
That means you have guards investigating this at the moment, Tusla has also appointed a child law solicitor to do a review of how the original allegations were handled.
And that’s probably a good sign that the solicitor I believe is Catherine Ghent, who has a very good reputation. I don’t think she would have taken this on if she felt she wasn’t going to be able to do a proper review.
The teachers against whom the complaints were made are still teaching in the school, even as these two investigations are going on and I think, most significantly, one of the teachers against whom allegations were made, is the principal of the school.
She’s the designated recipient of complaints of child abuse for the school and she continued to sit on the board of management when the board of management was handling these complaints. So there are a lot of questions to be asked about the whole process and about the fairness of the procedures”
“When Louise O’Keeffe met the Taoiseach, and I think it was the Minister for Children and the Minister for Education, before Christmas…you remember she came to meet them to discuss how the Government was going to respond to the European Court judgement.
She actually brought a letter with her that was written by that first child, who came home with the bruise on her arm and that child wrote that letter to Enda Kenny, asking him to do something about this.
And I think it’s very interesting that, in fact, the Government’s response to the judgement in the Louise O’Keeffe case is to exclude anybody who was abused in school where no previous complaint had been made.
Now, if you were to apply that to this current case, and to think these are still children, they would not qualify because there had been no, that I know of, no complaint made before that child came home in 2006 with the bruise on her arm.
Watch in full here
Bumped into Pearse Doherty TD also in the corridor. A courteous hello was exchanged. Forgot to mention ‘unfounded and untrue’. Next time.
— Mairia Cahill (@mairiac31) November 11, 2014
Maíria Cahill spent the day in Leinster House answering questions and talking about the wider issue of abuse.
A Dáil debate is scheduled today from 2:30 pm regarding allegations of sexual abuse by members of the republican movement arising from the Maíria Cahill case.
Watch it live here.
Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland
You’ll remember that the glorious leader promised a debate this week on the subject of IRA abuse claims? Well, this week’s Oireachtas schedule shows no such thing.
Puzzled, I rang the FG press office and spoke to a nice young man called Stephen who told me the debate would take place next week as they were having trouble framing the language as the issue was ‘legally sensitive’. Further to this, I was informed by another source within Leinster House that the debate was pulled from the schedule last week directly after a cabinet meeting attended by the Attorney General. I rang back the FG press office to see if I could get this confirmed and funny enough, no answer.
[From top: Taoiseach Enda Kenny meets Pope Francis at the Vatican yesterday, and later stands next to Cardinal Seán Brady as he was interviewed on RTÉ’s Six One News last night]
Yesterday Pope Francis declared John Paul II and John XXIII as saints in St Peter’s Square in Rome.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny attended the ceremony and met with Pope Francis afterwards, during which he invited the pontiff to Ireland.
Afterwards, Mr Kenny was interviewed by RTÉ.
During this interview, he stood next to Cardinal Seán Brady, who was given names and addresses of children who were being abused, or who were at risk of being abused, by Fr Brendan Smyth, in 1975, but failed to ensure they were protected.
Mr Kenny told Six One:
“I have to say that I invited him to Ireland and, while it’s not an official responsibility of the Government, I did say that if the church authorities extended an invitation and that he’s willing to travel, the Government will see to it that everything is done to make that visit a real success.”
Meanwhile, RTÉ journalist Tony Connolly reported:
“Controversy surrounds both men [John Paul II and John XXIII], particularly John Paul the second, who faced criticism over his handling of clerical sex abuse cases. However, the church insists that it’s their very humanity in itself which is a prerequisite for sainthood.
Watch back here
Previously: Cardinal Brady: More Than Just A Note Taker
(H/T: Ringos Dove)
You may recall the investigation in April by the Children’s Ombudsman into the HSE’s neglect of a 10-year-old rape victim, Maggie.
Philip Boucher-Hayes writes:
Emma is eleven now, her parents are estranged and she would frequently return to her mum from overnight visits to her father with unexplained rashes, and disturbed/withdrawn behaviour.
Emma made a disclosure of abuse to her mother, she made the same disclosure to her GP, her teacher and the gardaí. This little girl never once changed her story.
As you know the DPP seldom pursues prosecutions in this area largely because the evidence and testimony of young children is viewed as unreliable. But in Emma’s case the DPP decided to prosecute.
….Just as in Maggie’s case [see link below], for whatever reason some officials in the HSE decided that Emma’s mother was a bigger problem than this apparent open and shut case of child abuse. They recommended against Garda advice that the father be allowed to resume access visits.
Emma’s mum was forced to go through the agony of sending her children, she says against their will, to stay overnight with their father … from where she would get text messages that would break the heart of any parent. This is a transcript of my interview with her.
Mother: “So the girls had a phone when the first went to stay with him. And they’d text me “I’m crying. I don’t want to be here”. They just didn’t want to go down to him and I had to force them to go down because I was told if I didn’t send them I’d be arrested. And that would be exactly what he would want, me being arrested and being found not to be a fit mother.”
PBH:“Was Emma abused again?”
Mother:“Yes she was. On two occasions that I know of…. that I have seen the physical manifestations of the abuse again, yes. One of them she had to have a rape examination in the children’s hospital. She had an anal infection, and they found pubic hair.”
PBH:“So there was a wealth of forensic and medical evidence supporting claims of abuse for the hospital to pass on to the HSE? Did they act on it?”
Mother: No they didn’t. They had a meeting and they decided that they weren’t going to act on it because it had come from me.
PBH:“It was medical evidence of abuse.”
Mother:“My opinion on it is that they have made a grave grave mistake, and I’ve told them so. I said that I would hold them responsible, and I will until I get an apology for Emma.”
PBH:In your opinion did they directly expose Emma to the risk of being raped?
Mother: “Yes … Yes … I am absolutely sure that they did. They had a wealth of people that they could contact. They never did. They spoke to the wrong teacher in her school. I alerted them to that. They still didn’t care. I wrote into them all the times they were making a mistake.”
“But every time I did the risk was that I would have them taken off me, and I was afraid. I had to way up the fact that if I did they’d be given to him …. or I could just keep my mouth shut … and I’ve had to do that. …. It’s absolutely eating me.
Previously : The Case of Maggie
The lesson I had learned from society up to that point was that this behaviour was something that had to be endured. I could fill this entire column with unpleasant anecdotes. Before you roll your eyes, and mutter that I have simply been unfortunate, managing to encounter every deviant in Ireland, understand one thing: my experiences are not uncommon. If anything, they are the norm. I recently raised this subject with a number of female friends and every single woman had a story to tell of sexist abuse and assault. Tellingly, no one used the word assault and no one had ever reported a single instance of abuse.