Lay Staff At Abuse School Get Offer Of Therapy

Traumatised lay staff working at the Galway special school which was the subject of a damning inquiry into more than 30 years of sexual and physical abuse have been offered counselling.

The workers at the Holy Family School in Renmore were said to be devastated at revelations in the report of the inquiry team published last week, more than eight years after it was set up.

Allegations of brutal beatings and sexual abuse by up to 18 males, 11 of them Brothers of Charity, against boys as young as eight, were detailed in the report completed by Dr Kevin McCoy at the HSE’s request.

Denis Rohan, assistant general secretary of the IMPACT trade union, which represents lay staff at the Holy Family School, confirmed that his members had been offered counselling by the Brothers of Charity in order to deal with the fallout from the report.

Mr Rohan said: “The staff at the school have been extremely upset that clients were abused in such a manner.

“Some of them simply couldn’t believe it — that it could have happened. Good practice guidelines are now in place to ensure that this could not happen again. While this has been very upsetting for everyone connected with the school, the major concern for the staff is obviously for the people who were abused.”

The HSE National Director for Primary, Community and Continuing Care, Laverne McGuinness, has confirmed there are no concerns now at the Galway school and stressed the incidents outlined in the report were historical.

Junior Health Minister Jimmy Devins has ordered an independent report into the delay in publishing the inquiry findings on the abuse at the Holy Family School. The report is expected to be completed early in the new year.

Questioned at the launch of the report about the length of time it took for it to be completed — the inquiry was initially established in 1999 — Ms McGuinness agreed that there had been an undue delay.

But she pointed out the inquiry was unsworn and could not compel witnesses to attend. It spanned 33 years and individuals had to be traced, while there was also extensive legal consultation before publication.