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Thursday 28 August 2014

Gardai warned that school worker was a paedophile, but he kept job and continued raping boys for years

Greg Harkin

Published 30/10/2012 | 05:00

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The school, Ardscoil Mhuire, in Derrybeg, Co Donegal, where he worked

HEALTH officials failed to properly monitor a man after his conviction for a sickening sex attack -- leading to more victims being abused, a damning report will say.

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A Health Service Executive (HSE) internal investigation found major shortcomings in its handling of paedophile Michael Ferry, who used a school premises to groom and assault more boys after he was put on the sex offenders' register.



An HSE report, due to be issued publicly, will reveal how HSE officials failed to take action to monitor caretaker Ferry (56), despite at least two warnings from gardai.



The HSE report identifies "serious failings" by health officials who should have made sure Ferry was not allowed on the Co Donegal school premises, which was used as an Irish language summer college.



It also described as "incredible" the decision of the college to continue using Ferry to carry out odd jobs when a director was aware of his conviction.



According to the report, gardai first voiced concerns to the HSE in 2002 that Ferry was working at Ardscoil Mhuire in Derrybeg, the location of the Colaiste Cholmcille Irish language college.



It was the duty of health board officials to make sure Ferry did not have access to children and to follow up on the garda report.



But no action was taken and Ferry continued to frequent the premises -- even after receiving a suspended six-month sentence and being placed on the sex offenders' register in October 2002 for sexually assaulting a boy.



He continued to offend and was jailed for 18 years with four suspended in July 2011 after pleading guilty to charges of rape, sexual assault and production of child pornography between July 1990 and September 2005.



After he was jailed last year, internal investigations were launched by the HSE and gardai into its handling of Ferry in the aftermath of his 2002 conviction.



The Irish Independent has learnt that the HSE report has found:



- Gardai who brought Ferry to justice in the first case wrote to HSE officials in June 2002, warning that Ferry, who they had just arrested, was working at Ardscoil Mhuire, frequented by students and local teenagers.



- Detectives wrote to the same health board officials (then the North Western Health Board) on October 16, 2002 after Ferry's guilty plea, warning of his work at the school.



- Neither the health board nor the HSE which replaced it ever properly monitored Ferry.



- Gardai accused the health officials of "total inaction".



- Between December 2002 and December 2007, the period during which Ferry was a registered sex offender, he continued to groom and rape teenage boys on the school premises.



"It was only when Ferry was arrested again that he stopped working for the college. The health board did not do enough to ensure the safety of children," said a source familiar with the investigation.



Conviction



The Irish Independent has also learnt the report details that Colaiste Cholmcille director Donal O Loinsigh was in court in 2002 on Ferry's first conviction, yet continued to allow him to work at Ardscoil Mhuire.



Gardai warned Mr O Loinsigh on at least three occasions that Ferry should not be allowed in the company of children.



In April 2006, a garda sergeant called him to warn once again that Ferry should not be near children.



However, gardai believe Ferry continued to abuse young boys on the premises right up until 2010 when the new allegations were made against him.



It was there that boys -- aged between 10 and 16 -- were given vodka and cigarettes. On several occasions, victims would wake up after being plied with drink to find they had been raped.



Mr O Loinsigh, a school teacher from Terenure in Dublin, now living in Gortahork, Co Donegal, has denied any wrongdoing.



Gardai have asked DPP lawyers to examine if Mr O Loinsigh breached any aspect of the 2006 Criminal Justice Act in relation to child endangerment.



Just five victims have given evidence against Ferry but gardai believe dozens of other victims have never come forward.



After Ferry's conviction in July last year, gardai ordered a new inquiry into claims other paedophiles had operated in the area.



Five men have been arrested and questioned since then. All have been released without charge.

Irish Independent

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