Blackrock College abuse revelations ‘shocking and sickening’, Taoiseach says

Independent [Dublin, Ireland]

November 12, 2022

By Ralph Riegel

TAOISEACH Micheal Martin has described the abuse revelations at Blackrock College as “sickening” and he said he wanted to see those guilty of targeting children pursued by the Gardai and prosecuted.

However, Mr Martin said he did not believe the State should step in to compensate the victims of abuse in private schools – insisting that was a matter for the religious orders involved in the individual schools.

The Taoiseach – speaking in Cork this morning – said he believed the matter should now be the focus of the criminal justice system rather than a protracted new public inquiry.

Mr Martin spoke out following a week of horrific revelations of abuse at one of the most elite schools in the country, run by the Spiritan religious order.

It emerged that 57 men had come forward with complaints they had been abused on the grounds of Blackrock College. School principal Alan MacGinty issued an apology during the week for the “shameful” chapter in the Dublin school’s history.

“I think it is very importance the existing mechanisms are used particularly the criminal justice system,” he said.

“People should be investigated, the Gardai should investigate the situation of abuse.”

“I think what we have learned is sickening, it is shocking in terms of the scale of the abuse and the terrible trauma that meant for people who went into schools.”

There have also been complaints made about abuse in other Spiritan run schools, like St Mary’s College in Rathmines and Rockwell College in Tipperary.

Mr Martin said he believed the criminal justice system should now be the focus of the revelations involved rather than a debate over a potentially protracted new public inquiry.

“Again, what you are suggesting (a commission of inquiry) – there is an enormity to that as well.”

“There is an enormity to any such investigation and I think one of the issues that we need to learn from all of the inquiries that we have had is to stretch and ensure that the existing mechanisms, particularly in (the) criminal justice (system), are deployed fairly relentlessly and in a very focused way.”

“By that I mean, if people…and people have committed terrible crimes here – they should be investigated and we don’t want to do anything that would compromise any investigations that may still be ongoing.”

The Taoiseach also said he did not believe there was an argument for a special compensation package by the State for those impacted.

“I don’t believe so,” he said.

“But because what we see here is the (religious) orders here have taken up responsibility in terms of settlements and so on. That is the way it should be – they are culpable in this respect in terms of their governance and that is the way it should be.”

“But that said, equally, those individuals who are culpable, if they are still alive and in some cases some have passed away, they should be pursued by the legal situation (and Gardai).”