Northern Ireland

Donegal abuser Michael Ferry sacked in 2001

Central Criminal Court in Dublin
Image caption Ferry was sentenced at the Central Criminal Court in Dublin

The directors of an Irish language school in County Donegal have denied that a child abuser continued to work as a caretaker after a conviction.

On Monday, Michael Ferry, 55, from Gweedore was jailed for 14 years for offences committed at Ard Scoil Mhuire in Derrybeg between 1990 and 2005.

Ferry had been convicted of similar offences in 2002.

At his latest trial, it was indicated that he had continued to work in the school following that conviction.

'Totally unauthorised'

The court heard details of how he had access to the building where instances of abuse took place.

The directors of Colaiste Cholmchille, the college based at Ard Scoil Mhuire, have expressed their regret to Ferry's victims.

But they said it was "factually incorrect" to say he had been employed as a caretaker following his arrest in 2001.

They said that aside from periods of authorized accompanied access, other instances of him having accessed the building were "totally unauthorised".

A statement released by the directors said: "Following his arrest in 2001 and prior to his subsequent conviction he was dismissed from his post as caretaker.

"This dismissal took place at a formal meeting, attended by two directors of Colaiste Cholmcille."

The statement added that Ferry was required to surrender the keys to the building at the meeting, which he did.

It said that he was never subsequently re-employed as a caretaker but did participate in "effecting necessary repairs over subsequent years, on occasion".

Regret

It added that this was done when the building was vacant and not in use and that Ferry was always in the company of other building workers.

"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 ever operated," the directors said.

The directors insisted that Ferry was never unaccompanied and he was never provided with keys to the building.

"With the benefit of hindsight, in the light of the information now available we regret having allowed this," they added.

The statement said the building was vacant nine months of the year and that "apart from the above mentioned periods of authorized accompanied access, any other access of the building by Michael Ferry was totally unauthorised."

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