Wednesday 17 January 2018

Man sues over being boarded out as farm boy

Tim Healy

A MAN is suing the State claiming that as a nine-year-old orphan he was wrongfully "boarded out into a position of quasi-servitude" to work as a farm boy, the High Court heard.

The now 50-year-old man is also suing a religious order which ran the orphanage he was in from when he was a baby until he was boarded out, claiming he was sexually abused by other children in the orphanage.

The HSE, the Minister for Health and the religious order deny his claim and have asked the court to strike out his case, which was initiated 12 years ago, on grounds of inordinate and inexcusable delay.

Mr Justice Gerard Hogan adjourned their application for five weeks after he was told the Residential Institutions Redress Board is also dealing with his claim for compensation and it may not be necessary for the court to do so.

Suzanne Boylan, counsel for the man, said he had brought the High Court proceedings before the Redress Board claim was taken. The board had sanctioned an interim payment of €10,000 about a month ago for him but had reserved its position on compensation for his period of "boarding out" as a farm boy, she said.

He was unwell and not in a position to give immediate instructions, counsel said.

Ms Boylan sought an adjournment so that she could take instructions but hoped the matter could be resolved through the Redress Board in which case all she expected to seek from the court were the legal costs.

Gerard Clarke SC, for the Minister, Ireland and the Attorney General, said his side wanted the court to hear its application for the matter to be struck out on grounds of delay.

Mr Clarke said the man's claim against the State authorities related to a period from 1971 to 1981 when he was boarded out to a brother and his sister in the west of Ireland. He attended a respected secondary school in Sligo and University College Galway and went on to obtain a professional qualification.

The brother and sister he was boarded out to have since died and there is nobody else to give evidence as to his treatment, counsel said. The State side was therefore completely and totally prejudiced in its ability to defend the case, counsel said.

Mr Justice Hogan noted the man's claim appeared to be that he was held in a position of quasi-servitude while boarded out.

He said if the Redress Board resolves the matter in his favour, legal costs will be the only outstanding matter. He "earnestly hoped" a decision could be made by the board by the time case comes back before him in five weeks.

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