Guidelines not followed in caretaker abuse case

Thursday 03 April 2014 19.35
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Michael Ferry continued to work as a caretaker at Ard Scoil Mhuire, which was used as an Irish language college
Michael Ferry continued to work as a caretaker at Ard Scoil Mhuire, which was used as an Irish language college
Ferry was jailed in July 2011 for 14 years for sexually assaulting four boys
Ferry was jailed in July 2011 for 14 years for sexually assaulting four boys

An internal review of how the Health Board and subsequently the Health Service Executive responded to the case of a man, who was convicted of abusing boys at a former school in the Donegal Gaeltacht, has found that the initial response did not comply with the Children First guidelines.

The review related to the case of 58-year-old Michael Ferry from Carrick Boyle, Gweedore who was convicted in 2002 of indecently assaulting a boy.

He continued to work as a caretaker at Ard Scoil Mhuire, which was used as an Irish language college.

In July 2011, he was jailed for 14 years for sexually assaulting four boys.

The Tusla review stated that the Health Board was contacted twice by gardaí in 2002 in relation to Mr Ferry, expressing concerns that he was still working in a caretaking role in a school and that other children may be at risk of abuse.

However, it found that the response was not in full compliance with Children First guidelines.

A phone call was made to the director of the school who confirmed that Mr Ferry had no access to children and the case was subsequently closed.

The review said that Mr Ferry's conviction in 2002 should have alerted the Health Board to the risk this man posed to children and it was not enough to take the word of the college that he no longer had access to children.

It found that no attempt was made to gather information on his family or whether he might have been involved in other areas of work and it noted that he had two sisters with children but they were not spoken to.  

However, the review found that there was a marked contrast between the response in 2002 and in 2010 when gardaí again contacted the HSE to tell them that Mr Ferry had made admissions to allegations of abuse.

In 2010, the review stated: "The HSE put in place a comprehensive plan to ensure that any adults coming forward following the conviction of the man would be referred to the appropriate services."

It also stated that the victim in this period was met and offered services to help him through the trauma he was experiencing.