Abuse victim dismayed inquiry will not consider his case

A GLENGORMLEY man who claims to have been repeatedly abused by a teacher at a Catholic primary school in West Belfast more than 40 years ago has expressed his dismay that the government inquiry into historical institutional abuse will not consider his case.

However, the man, who wants to be identified only as Joe Abused, is hopeful that the scope of the inquiry will eventually be broadened so that those who were subjected to horrific abuse at day schools can also have their voices heard.

Joe was educated by the De La Salle Christian Brothers at St. Finian’s School in the lower Falls Road area of west Belfast. He says he was first abused at the age of nine in September 1964, with incidents involving the same Brother continuing until he left the school in June 1966.

Now aged in his mid 50s, Joe met with members of the investigation team last month. However, he was distraught to learn that his case would not be taken on as currently the inquiry will only deal with cases of ‘institutional’ abuse.

“They said they would not be taking on my case because I was in a day school, not an institution, and that the inquiry is set out to investigate the abuse of children who where in institutions 24/7, not children that where in school from 9 to 3 each day.

“The team says it is set up only to investigate institutional abuse. But I thought a school, no matter if you were in it a few hours or 24 hours a day, was still an institution.

“I know there are thousands of children like me who were abused at these schools and its not fair or right that we should be cast aside by this team.”

A representative from the OFMDFM Equality & Strategy Directorate confirmed to Joe that his case will not be heard by the inquiry under its current remit, but added: “I will pass your details to the Chair of the inquiry as soon as the inquiry is established. The Chair, when appointed, will have authority to make recommendations on any necessity for any increase in remit and scope of the investigation.”

Joe is now anxiously waiting for the inquiry to progress and hoping that the Chairperson uses common sense to broaden the definition of ‘institution’ to include day schools.

Read the full story in this week’s Times...