CHILD abuser Michael Ferry gave sex education and religion classes to teenagers before he was unmasked as a serial paedophile, the Irish Independent has learnt.
Ferry (55) -- jailed for 14 years this week for the rape of four boys -- worked as a substitute teacher at a Co Donegal secondary school, former pupils confirmed last night.
Students as young as 13 were given classes by the former seminarian at the Gweedore secondary school -- Pobalscoil Gaoth Dobhair -- in the 1980s.
The Irish Independent understands there are no allegations against Ferry from his time working at the school.
No one from Pobalscoil Gaoth Dobhair was available for comment yesterday. Ferry taught at the school before the current principal was in charge.
Sources say his time at the school ended before 1990.
After leaving the school, he got work as the caretaker of a nearby Irish language summer college, Ard Scoil Mhuire, where he was involved in a reign of terror, abusing young boys.
Ferry was sacked from his role as caretaker at the college in 2001 after allegations he abused a pupil there. He was convicted of the offence the following year and received a suspended sentence.
However, he was allowed to stay working there in an unofficial capacity doing odd jobs from time to time and he continued abusing children at the premises.
His continued work at the property occurred despite concerns being expressed to the college's owners by gardai.
Ferry was jailed earlier this week for 14 years after pleading guilty to 38 sample counts of rape and molestation of four boys on the college premises between 1990 and 2005.
Gardai are investigating allegations Ferry was involved in a child sex ring with at least four other abusers.
One parent who knows some of the victims said Ferry had been considered a 'pillar of society' who had ingratiated himself into several organisations.
"He would have volunteered for the Order of Malta and the mountain rescue group. He was at church events and school events," the parent said.
"Whilst the courses at Ard Scoil Mhuire were for adults in the past couple of years, thousands of children went through there in the 1990s from all over Ireland. I pray to God none of them were hurt too."
Seosamh O Gallachoir, who runs the Irish language college at Ard Scoil Mhuire, last night expressed his "deepest regret" that Ferry had abused children at the property.
He said Ferry was sacked in 2001 after abuse allegations against him first came to light.
However, over subsequent years, Ferry was allowed to carry out repair work on the building "on an intermittent basis", said Mr O Gallachoir.
"During this period he assisted on occasions, in the presence of college staff, with some aspects of our adult courses, during which time no junior courses were in operation," he said in a statement.
"He was never unaccompanied and he was never provided with keys to the building.
"With the benefit of hindsight, in light of the information now available, we regret having allowed this."
Mr O Gallachoir said the building was unoccupied for about nine months each year. He said any access Ferry got to the building during this time would have been unauthorised.
Fianna Fail justice spokesman Dara Calleary called for an urgent external investigation of the child abuse allegations and an immediate inquiry into how concerns raised by gardai about Ferry were handled by the North Western Health Board at the time.
The Health Service Executive is conducting a review of how the then health board dealt with the case.
"We need to know exactly what happened to allow a man convicted of sexual assault to continue to work in such close proximity to vulnerable children," Mr Calleary said.
"There is a sickening sense that we have not heard the end of this appalling story and that there may be other victims whose cases have not yet been fully investigated."
He added: "People are finding it difficult to comprehend how this situation could have continued if every relevant body was informed and acted as they should, especially given the improved child protection protocols that were in place."