Dáil Éireann - Volume 588 - 29 June, 2004

Written Answers. - Child Abuse.

  214. Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will address the information requested in Parliamentary Questions Nos. 198 to 200, inclusive, of 22 October 2003. [19349/04]

  Mr. N. Dempsey:The letters referred to form part of a [529] substantial correspondence from the person concerned over a number of years outlining a range of concerns and allegations concerning a young offenders centre and related matters. I have been made aware of the general content of this correspondence.

Departmental records indicate that a meeting was held in March 1988 between officials of my Department and management at the Finglas children’s centre to pursue complaints made to the Department by a then serving member of staff. The complaints related chiefly to matters involving financial management and control aspects of the centre but also included allegations of physical abuse of young people. The Department’s records indicate that the Department officials advised the director that all such matters should be brought to my Department’s attention immediately and should be investigated thoroughly.

The only identifiable allegation regarding physical abuse related to an alleged assault of a boy by a staff member at the centre in 1985. Staff in the Department interviewed the then director of the centre in late 1992 in this regard. The director assured my Department that this incident had been investigated at the time and it had been found that the incident was a necessary case of physical restraint of a disruptive young person, which was misinterpreted by a staff member.

Following further allegations of abuse at Finglas children’s centre and Trinity House school, a Garda investigation was carried out in 1994. On foot of that investigation, in 1994 the Director of Public Prosecutions directed that there was no evidence to support allegations of abuse. On receipt of further correspondence in 1996, the matter was referred from my Department to the Garda for investigation. In addition to this investigation, as the Deputy is aware, the Garda, in conjunction with the Eastern Health Board, my Department and the management of Finglas children’s centre were engaged in a look-back investigation into allegations of abuse in relation to this centre. Arising from this investigation, files were sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions regarding allegations of abuse at the centre. My Department provided every possible assistance to the Garda and made available all relevant records in this regard.

Allegations of financial irregularity were also investigated by the Department. Although many of these were not substantiated, the investigations into these allegations was a contributory factor in later identifying weaknesses in the financial systems on Trinity House school which were addressed.

The letter of February 1993 referred to in the question, was received from the person in question enclosing copies of correspondence with the then Minister for Finance and the then Minister for Enterprise and Employment. As these matters were the subject of consideration by the Committee of Public Accounts, the Department [530] of Finance would have been briefed on developments taking place in this regard.