Serious questions

The Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Alan Shatter T.D., reflected the views of most people when he asked on Tuesday for an explanation as to how a man convicted of sexual assault in 2002 at an Irish language summer school in Gaoth Dobhair, could be allowed to continue to work there after his conviction.

The Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Alan Shatter T.D., reflected the views of most people when he asked on Tuesday for an explanation as to how a man convicted of sexual assault in 2002 at an Irish language summer school in Gaoth Dobhair, could be allowed to continue to work there after his conviction.

However, as disturbing as the detail of the crimes committed by Ferry are, what is now causing shock and anger locally and nationally, is the realisation that ‘the system’ had found this man out once before and that the ‘system’ had failed to stop him from repeating his crimes against four more young innocent victims.

Michael Ferry (55) abused the four boys on an almost weekly basis, some for as long as four years. He groomed them by supplying them with alcohol, cigarettes and money. He would also make them watch pornography with him, with one boy reporting to gardai that the man had shown him child pornography.

Mr Justice Paul Carney said the authorities must have been aware that Ferry had a conviction for a similar offence yet he continued working in the school.

“A disturbing feature of this case is that the outrages perpetrated in the school predate and postdate the sexual assault of a pupil in the same school for which he was placed on the sex offenders register for five years,” Mr Justice Carney commented.

“Despite the fact that he pleaded guilty to sexual assault in 2002 he remained working in the school to continue to engage in the stalking and grooming with which we are concerned with today.

“This must have been known to the local gardai and presumably the school authorities.”

Reacting to those comments Minister Shatter has now asked the questions that are screaming out for answers: “It is unacceptable that this individual, having being reportedly convicted for child abuse of a student nine years earlier, continued to be employed as a caretaker in the school and to have access to vulnerable children. I have asked the Garda Commissioner to report to me on the background to this matter and with particular regard to the contact, if any, local Gardaí had with those in charge of the school and with the local health board subsequent to the first conviction.

“I am particularly calling on those in charge of this school to explain how this individual continued to be employed as a caretaker in the school and whether at any time they considered the risk he posed to children.”

The ‘system’ has failed the four young boys who were so savagely assaulted by Ferry.

Questions posed by Mr Justice Carney and Minister Alan shatter must get answers - and swiftly. The systems supposedly in place to protect the vulnerable have failed on many levels. We must find out why.