Irish Jesuit Redress Scheme for victims of physical and sexual abuse

Yesterday the Irish Jesuits Order yet again apologised to those who suffered abuse at the hands of Joseph Marmion to include sexual, physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual abuse and published a redress scheme. The purpose of which is stated to allow those who suffered that abuse to obtain reasonable compensation without the need for lengthy investigations and litigation. This is a few months after the Diocese of Dromore published its redress scheme, which that of the Jesuits is similar to although retains a greater focus on following actions akin to litigation with an inevitable increase in costs and delay.

Fr Marmion, who died in 2000 aged 75, is reported to have sexually assaulted dozens of boys whom he taught at Belvedere College, Dublin; Crescent College, Limerick; as well as at Clongowes Wood College, Kildare. All three are well known private fee paying schools in the Republic of Ireland.

The redress scheme was welcomed by a steering committee representing the men and provides for offers up to €75,000 and beyond depending on severity of the abuse.

In an unusual move, in March, 2021, the Jesuits publicly identified Fr Marmion as having “abused boys sexually, emotionally and physically while he was on the teaching staff at Belvedere College in the 1970s.”

It said it had issued this statement: “following engagement with a former pupil who was himself abused, in the hope that others who may have suffered would come forward and get the support they may need.”

The redress scheme is voluntary and does not prejudice either party’s right to pursue litigation at a later date. Limitation periods will be stayed for the duration of the redress scheme but if the claim is not resolved within the redress scheme, limitation can be raised at a later date.

Unusually, it appears that eligible claims will only enter the redress scheme if they cannot be settled by negotiations between solicitors for the Jesuits and solicitors for the victims in the first instance. Direct applicants would therefore seem to be excluded.

Claims that cannot be settled by negotiation will be entered into the Redress Scheme where they will be assessed by an independent private tribunal (“the Tribunal”) compromising a Senior Counsel (the Irish equivalent to a QC) or a retired High Court Judge and two Junior Counsel, one appointed by the solicitors acting for the steering committee of the victims of Fr Marimon and one by the Jesuits, neither of these Junior Counsel can have had any prior involvement in advising the steering committee or the Jesuits.

In assessing quantum, the Tribunal will have regard to the Personal Injury Guidelines adopted by the Irish Judicial Council in Ireland on the 6 March 2021.

Any offer of redress made under the scheme which is accepted, will be in full and in accepting an offer of redress an applicant will also waive his right to pursue a civil claim against the Jesuits or the schools involved in the redress scheme for all claims, losses or damages arising out of the circumstances identified in his application.

The abuse covered by the redress scheme must have commenced prior to the applicant’s 18th birthday.

The redress scheme also bears some unexpected parallels with civil litigation as legal representatives for the Jesuits may raise a Notice for Particulars and on receipt of Replies to such Particulars by the applicant may make submissions to the Tribunal. Notice for and Replies to Particulars are similar to old style requests for further and better particulars and interrogatories.

Both the applicants and the Jesuits have the right to secure their own independent medical evidence.

The initial assessment will be on paper and the award of redress made on foot of the same will be open for acceptance for 21 days by both parties, if the award is rejected by either party there will be an oral hearing before the Tribunal which can either confirm or amend the original award, this confirmed or amended award will be open for acceptance by both parties for a period of 14 days.

While the redress scheme provides for a Schedule of Legal Costs, please see the table below, it has not provided any guidance on the nature and extent of the abuse that will have to be established in order to be paid the compensation/redress awards referred to in this table under the heading Compensation Award.

Compensation awardLegal Costs
Up to €10,000€2000 (plus VAT)
Above €10,001 but no more than €20,000€3,500 (plus VAT)
Above €20,001 but no more than €50,000€6,250 (plus VAT)
Above €50,001 but no more than €60,000€7,500 (plus VAT)
Above €60,001 but no more than €75,000€9,000 (plus VAT)
Above €75,000Costs to be agreed between respective parties’ solicitors and costs to be taxed in default of agreement

Launching the redress scheme the Irish Jesuit Provincial Leonard Moloney SJ said that “Once again I want to apologise to all those who suffered in any way at the hands of Joseph Marmion… However, it is my sincere hope that this scheme will go some way towards assuring victims of our commitment to continue responding in whatever ways possible to the wishes and concerns of survivors. I hope also that in its construction it will cause the least possible trauma to victim/survivors of Joseph Marmion, who have already suffered enough.”


Written by James Chambers at BLM (james.chambers@bmlaw.com)

Consent to be taught in schools in Ireland as part of updated relationship and sexuality education

The Irish Minister for Education, in replying to a parliamentary question, has stated that consent is one of a number of subjects that needs to be taught in schools following a review of relationships and sexuality education carried out by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (“NCCA”).

In 2018 the then Minister for Education, Richard Bruton asked the NCCA to review relationships and sexuality education in schools with a view to ensuring that it was “fit for purpose” and the NCCA was asked to specifically review the issue of consent and what it implies.

The NCCA as part of its review was also asked to look into “… developments in relation to contraception; healthy, positive, sexual expression and relationships; safe use of the internet; the role of school ethos; and LGBTQ+ matters.”

The Minister went on to say that the NCCA are of the view that guidance materials and training for teachers will be required in order to create a wider understanding of what is involved in teaching on the issue of consent and therefore the newly updated relationship and sexuality education will not be introduced in schools until September 2023.

The Minister has not confirmed at what stage consent will be taught in schools but she has said that the junior cycle Social, Personal and Health Education curriculum will be updated first, followed by the revamping of the senior cycle and primary school curricula.


Written by James Chambers at BLM (james.chambers@blmlaw.com)

Irish Government announces largest ever €800m Mother and Baby Home Redress Scheme

On 16 November 2021 the Irish Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Minister Roderic O’Gorman announced a new financial redress scheme for the survivors of mother-and-baby homes which will be the largest in the history of the Irish State in terms of the number of beneficiaries.

Mr O’Gorman said it is expected that the Redress Scheme will benefit 34,000 survivors to the value of €800 million.

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Irish Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes makes recommendations on redress

The Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes said that former residents of the institutions investigated by the Commission had raised the issue of redress with them. Former residents sought redress for what they considered to be the wrongs done to them in those institutions and/or by society generally.

The Commission, in making its recommendations, noted that:

  • redress can be in the form of enhanced services or financial payments and
  • Former residents of the institutions investigated felt that an apology would also be appropriate.

Enhanced services

The Commission said that counselling and enhanced medical cards should be made available to those former residents who need them.

Financial redress

The Commission was clear that any decision to provide financial redress is a matter for the Irish Government.

If redress is to be considered for former residents of mother and baby homes, the Commission said that the relevant comparable redress schemes are the Residential Institutions Redress Scheme (RIRS) and the Magdalen laundries scheme.

In the Commission’s second Interim Report in August, 2016 it reported that it felt that there were inconsistencies in the decisions made to include/exclude some institutions from the RIRS. In its final report the Commission remained of this view and said that the exclusion of children from the Children’s Home at Tuam from the RIRS as “most egregious” as it was a local authority home where “many children” stayed until they were seven years or older.”

The Commission noted that the criterion for the inclusion of an institution in the RIRS was “whether or not a public body had a regulatory or inspection function in respect of that institution.” and concludedthat it was “abundantly clear that all institutions investigated by the Commission meet this criterion.” The implication being that these institutions could have been included in the RIRS from the outset.

The Commission further noted that the RIRS applied to children under the age of 18 and therefore if the RIRS (which is still in existence) was extended to the institutions under the remit of the Commission a number of mothers would be eligible to apply to the RIRS for redress.

The Commission also thought that children who had spent time in the Children’s Home at Tuam, Bessborough in Cork, Castlepollard in Westmeath, Sean Ross in Tipperary, the Bethany and Denny homes in Dublin should all be eligible to apply to the RIRS for redress.

However, the Commission went on to remark that those children, some of whom had spent very short periods in the institutions, “would find it very difficult to establish they had been abused” for the purpose of having redress awarded to them under the RIRS.

Children who had spent time at Belmont, Miss Carr’s, the Castle and the Regina Coeli resided in these institutions with their mothers and so the Commission was of the view that the issue of financial redress did not arise for these children.

The Commission was however satisfied that all the former child residents in the four county homes it investigated, who were resident in those institutions without their mothers should also be eligible for any financial redress package announced by the Irish Government.

The Commission also commented on the women who were resident in the Magdalen laundries who received ex-gratia payments because they were considered to be incarcerated and were made to do commercial work for no pay. Although the women in the mother and baby homes were not in the exact same position, the Commission was satisfied that there were some similarities between the two groups and as such that it may be suitable to consider a similar ex-gratia type payment to the women in the mother and baby homes.

There was evidence that some of the women in these institutions had carried out unpaid work on behalf of the local authority or the institutions.  The Commission found that if this was the case that these women should be eligible to apply to the Magdalen laundry scheme.

The Commission concluded by saying that those women who spent lengthy periods (in excess of six months) in mother and baby homes should be considered for redress on the same basis as the Magdalen Laundry Scheme. The payment made related to the time spent in the institutions. The Commission settled on six months as the cut off period in terms of being eligible for this proposed redress as six months was the average length of time that women spent in mother and baby home outside of Ireland.

However, the Commission was clear that after the introduction of the Unmarried Mother’s Allowance in 1973 things changed and women had other options and as such those women who entered a mother and baby home after 1973 did not have a case for financial redress.

State apology

Since the publication of the final report the Irish Government has issued a State Apology.

On 13 January, the Irish Prime Minister, Taoiseach Michael Martin apologised on behalf of the State for the “profound generational wrong visited upon Irish mothers and their children” in mother and baby homes and county homes”. Mr. Martin said “the Irish State funded these institutions” and had authority for directing their operation. “This authority was not exerted, and the State’s duty of care was not upheld. The State failed you, the mothers and children, in these homes.”

The Roman Catholic Church in Ireland and those religious and other charitable organisations responsible for operating several mother and baby homes have also issued separate apologies.

It has also been confirmed at the end of last week that Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman has written to the primates of the Church of Ireland and the Roman Catholic Church, as well as to the religious congregations and the associated charities asking them to read the report of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes and meet him to discuss their own apologies to victims, contributions to the redress fund and access to records for survivors.

Minister O’Gorman has given a commitment to bring forward proposals for a redress scheme by the end of April 2021.


Katrina Gray, Partner, BLM
katrina.gray@blmlaw.com

Irish High Court quashes decision relating to historic child sex abuse allegations

On 19 October Mr Justice Simmons in the Irish High Court handed down judgment in the matter of J (A person subject to an allegation of abuse) and The Child and Family Agency [2020] IEHC 464 and in so doing quashed a decision by TUSLA, the Irish Child and Family Agency (CFA), which had arrived at a “provisional conclusion” that J (the alleged abuser as he is described in the judgment) had engaged in sexual acts with a child (the complainant as he is described in the judgment) in the CFA’s review of historic allegations of child sexual abuse that the complainant had made to the CFA in December 2013. Under the provisions of the Child Care Act 1991 (as amended) the CFA must inquire into complaints of child sexual abuse, including historical abuse.

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Care home rapist imprisoned for 11 years

A healthcare assistant in Ireland, who raped a 73-year-old woman in his care, at her nursing home has been sentenced to 11 years imprisonment.

Emmanuel Adeniji committed the assault during the Covid-19 lockdown in Ireland, three months ago. He was recorded on CCTV going into and coming out of the woman’s room at the nursing home.  She was found later by another member of staff, in a distressed state.

On sentencing the man, Mr Justice Paul McDermott noted the offence had involved a vulnerable elderly lady who was totally alone and helpless and was confined to her room due to the Covid-19 lockdown. He noted the offence had taken place at 3am and she had been without help until later in the morning.  The judge went on to say that  this was an egregious breach of trust by a qualified and experienced healthcare worker.

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A report on past sexual abuse in Scouting Ireland concludes there was cover up

An independent report into past cases of sexual abuse in Scouting Ireland has concluded there was cover up and a failure to report abuse.

The Historical Sexual Abuse in Scouting: A Learning Review’ was commissioned by Scouting Ireland to examine the incidence of sexual abuse that is believed to have happened within scouting.  The report’s author is Ian Elliott, Child Protection Consultant.

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‘Zoombombing’

Around 60 children were subjected to footage of child sex abuse, while they were taking part in a fitness class on Zoom, on Tuesday 5 May. The Zoom call had been hacked by someone who streamed the video of the abuse into the session, in a practice known as ‘Zoombombing’. The class had been organised by a sports club in Plymouth and it is believe the hacker gained access as a result of the group’s login details having been published on public internet forums.

Devon and Cornwall police officers are working with Plymouth City Council’s social care team to identify all those who saw the footage, and may have been affected by seeing the images, so as to provide them with any advice or support, as required.

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Irish Jury awards €1 million in damages to woman raped by her former boyfriend

In July, 2015 Magnus Meyer Hustveit pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court in Ireland to one count of rape and one count of sexual assault committed against his 28-year-old girlfriend between 2011 and 2012.

Hustveit who is Norwegian had sent an email to his former partner, Niamh Ní Dhomhnaill where he admitted to using Ms Ní Dhomhnaill body for his sexual gratification while she was asleep. At the time Ms Ní Dhomhnaill was taking medication that made her sleep heavily.

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Gaelic Athletic Association raises concerns on social media use

The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) has issued advice to its member clubs not to use WhatsApp, in concern about what material is shared, often in error, and how it is controlled.  Group chats are often a very useful way of getting out news and arrangements for teams and clubs to the players, their parents and club members.  However the ease of access to the chats, the ease of adding material and the potential for errors, makes this a potential banana skin for those who operate the chat.

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