The Girl With The Bruise On Her Arm

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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”

[Later]

“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

Previously: ‘Any Minister In that Cabinet Meeting Should Be Ashamed’

The ‘Law of God Not the Child’s Feelings Is The Guiding Principle’

20 thoughts on “The Girl With The Bruise On Her Arm

  1. newsjustin

    Wow, shocking.

    I’m intrigued by an early part of the post:
    The school’s child abuse prevention policy stated, “the Catholic ethos which demands that the law of God and of the church, and not the child’s feelings, be the guiding principle.”

    Did it really? Or is that a summary/paraphrase or claim as to what the school’s child abuse prevention policy actually said?

  2. squiggleyjoop

    “the Catholic ethos which demands that the law of God and of the church, and not the child’s feelings, be the guiding principle.”

    What a perfectly normal human sentence.

  3. Starina

    who do these children think they are? sure the teachers are only doling out the wrath of god on their wicked flesh.

    abm in 3…2…1…

  4. ahjayzis

    “the Catholic ethos which demands that the law of God and of the church, and not the child’s feelings, be the guiding principle.”

    …in a publically funded school staffed by publically paid teachers. Anyone who utters that sentence with sincerity is a danger to children. No more of this ‘divestment’ shite, BAN all religious organisations from state-financed education immediately.

      1. ahjayzis

        Unconstitutional if direct perhaps – but if you put it up to them that they can pay for their school, their teachers, their maintenance, their utility bills and their taxes or relinquish to state control, Bob’s your uncle. There’s no constitutional imperative for the state to fund privately owned organisations.

        Unwarranted because it’s a church? If a non-faith organisation had perpetrated the crimes against children the RC church has, do you really think it’d still be legally in existence? NAMBLA obviously needs a creed.

  5. inotherwords

    Seems like we’re back at the start of the loop again, give it another 40 years, and the gov will pay out a mediocre compensation, and give an apology that’s far too late to undo all the hurt and damage that’s been done.

    It’s depressing that things never seem to change when it comes to protecting our most vulnerable and precious.

  6. Joe the Lion

    bastard children – next thing you know they’ll be looking for an education not grounded in violent religious extremism

  7. Casey

    What does this actually mean:

    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

  8. Truth in the News

    What needs putting in the Public Domain is the Book of Rules and Bye Laws
    the Managers of Catholic Schools both in National and Secondary Schools use
    These Publications are in resticted circulation and are not in any Public
    Library…..the Education Legislation pertaing to religious managed schools
    needs a comprehensive overhaul especially in view of the recent Supreme
    Court Case…..the problems arise from legislation enacted under by Dick Burke’s
    tenure in office as Minster for Education in the mid 70’s…parents have no
    rights and no recourse to appeal, again it was cededing control to Irish
    Catholic Church, if we knew in the 70’s what we now know, would we have
    allowed them to get away with…John Charles McQuaid is dead, his rules
    and dogma still live on.

    1. Hashtag Diversity

      One of them working for Rupert Murdoch from behind the safety of a paywall. Step forward Justine McCarthy.

  9. Hashtag Diversity

    More of the Justine McCarthy Cork Resentment and Irish media failure evident.

    What is ultimately wrong in this country is not being Catholic but to acknowledge the actual diversity, the range of opinion, belief and dissent that intertwines all of us into a nation. A nation that allows me to say what I have just said.

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