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Irish abuse survivors

About 200 survivors of abuse in Southern Ireland attended a meeting at the United Servicesmens Club in Birmingham. Mr. Coleman of Lavelle Coleman Dublin, the co-ordinating solicitors, opened the meeting. Next was Mr. McGraw, Senior Counsel who outlined the three aspects of the case :-

      <li >

The Commission

      – the Irish Government has announced that it will hold a commission, which will hear evidence upon the child abuse problem in Schools, Care Homes, and other institutions in Southern Ireland. It will consist of a Justice (already appointed), someone qualified in psychology, and another. It is taking submissions at the moment as to its terms of reference – interested parties are advised to write to the Irish government. It will hear the victim’s stories and cross-examination will be prohibited – it will be non – adversarial. It will be set up in September. Mr. McGraw encouraged the survivors to group together and make representations.

    1. The Criminal Prosecutions – in one school alone there are 40 Brothers under investigation. The question of whether the survivors are entitled to a representative in addition to the Crown Prosecutor has been raised apparently.
    2. <li >

The Civil Claims

    – very similar to the process in England.
      <li >The proceedings will be issued in Southern Ireland as opposed to England as the Charities (Christian Brothers, & Sisters of Mercy) are based in Southern Ireland.

    • The English survivors (10,000 Irish people emigrated to England after
      leaving care apparently – we estimate that there are about 1000 survivors) will be represented by English Solicitors as agents for the Irish solicitors.
      Lavelle Coleman had already involved Irwin Mitchell in London, Birmingham,
      Leeds, and Sheffield, and Smith Llewelyn of Swansea before they approached
      ACAL. Peter Garsden is now representing ACAL. The three firms have formed a Steering Committee. Peter Garsden will be allocating cases to ACAL members who want to take them on. Both Irwin Mitchell and Smith Llewelyn are being encouraged to join ACAL.
    • <li >Unfortunately there is no Civil Legal Aid in Eire, The solicitors seem to work on a combination of a percentage of the damages and hourly rates. Proportionality comes in – it is unusual for more than 10% – stretching to 20% in exceptional cases, to be awarded in costs. We therefore have to work on a “no win no fee” basis. The way in which the costs are to be split is still under discussion. Cash flow therefore has to be considered. <li >We will be preparing the cases and sending the evidence over to Ireland for issue of proceedings and processing <li >


      – the Irish government have announced that it will be amending the law of Limitation for the victims of child sexual abuse, so as to allow any claim to be made notwithstanding its age. Effectively this will that there will be no Limitation rule for the victims of childhood sexual abuse There is a Bill already going through their Parliament even though the announcement was only made on 11t


      May 1999. They are intending, apparently to include claims of sexual abuse and not physical abuse. There is some lobbying going on to change this and include physical abuse. We must await developments.

Peter Garsden on behalf of ACAL is intending to lobby the English Government for similar amendments to be made to English Law.

David Glasgow a renowned psychologist from England then addressed the meeting upon the effects of abuse. He was followed by Mick Waters of Coventry who is in charge of the Survivors group in this country. He gave an emotive speech about the problem and his experiences. He roused the survivors to go forward together as a group. There was then a break for lunch. After lunch many survivors got up and told their personal and painful stories to the assembled company. The effect was a highly charged emotive atmosphere. A group from Lavelle Coleman was at the back taking details of claimants who wished to come forward. It was a very worthwhile but emotional day.

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