Justice Minister Alan Shatter has promised police will investigate allegations that the owners of a Donegal school broke the law when they employed pedophile Michael Ferry.
Victims of the caretaker want the management of Colaiste Cholmcille in Gweedore to face action for their decision to allow Ferry access to the school after he was convicted of sexually abusing a child in 2002.
Ferry is now serving an 18 year sentence for raping four boys at the school after his initial conviction.
Minister Shatter has also called on the management to ‘explain their thought process’ in continuing to hire Ferry after he was convicted in 2002.
“In the context of the manner in which these individuals conducted themselves, it is a matter for the gardaí (police) to determine now whether there’s an investigation required,” said Minister Shatter.
“Police will examine the case and decide as to whether there was any criminal failures that could result in a prosecution arising out of that. That is strictly a matter for An Garda Síochána (police).”
Shatter also said that the school authorities knew their obligations under the 1999 Children First Guidelines to inform the local health board about any risk of child abuse.
He did admit that this was a voluntary set of guidelines and there was no legal obligation. But, he added: “Frankly, I’m appalled this man remained in that employment.”
Police are already investigating claims that Ferry was part of a wider sex ring in Donegal.
The Irish language school at the centre of the story, Coláiste Cholmcille, has issued a statement confirming that after his conviction, Ferry did continue to work ‘on occasion’ at the school.
Management claimed that this work was carried out in the company of building workers or staff.
Rape Crisis Network of Ireland director Fiona Neary has asked questions of the Health Authority and the school.
“We need to know did the social services take any action. Did they try and identify were any children being abused or at risk and what action did they take?” asked Neary.
“Child protection is everyone’s business. By continuing to support a risky situation, in continuing to employ him, they enable this abuser.”
A spokeswoman for the Health Service has confirmed that they are reviewing their involvement in relation to the Ferry case.
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