The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) is considering whether to prosecute a former primary school teacher in Co Wicklow for his alleged serious physical abuse of up to 30 pupils.
The historic child abuse that reportedly took place at a primary school in Bray in the 1960s and 1970s is also the subject of an investigation by the Garda Watchdog.
A group of alleged victims filed a complaint with the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) because they are dissatisfied with the response of the Garda inquiry.
In recent days, the regulator has informed one of the complainants, Sean Martin, that it has opened an investigation into the complaint.
Meanwhile, a senior guard in Bray told Mr Martin last Wednesday that investigators had sent a file to the DPP in relation to the criminal allegations against the former teacher.
The public prosecutor’s office is now deciding whether the man, who is now over 80, faces criminal proceedings.
It is alleged that the former teacher at the center of the investigation regularly severely hit children with tools, including golf clubs, and frequently banged their heads against blackboards and walls.
Testimonies given to gardaí by former students also allege that the teacher regularly “punched and kicked” them and grabbed their ears until they passed out.
Some of the complainants say the alleged abuse prevented them from continuing their education to secondary school, affected their personal relationships later in life and hurt their job prospects.
Corporal punishment was legal in Irish schools until 1982. However, what was presented to Gardaí in Bray went far beyond what was permitted by law at the time, leading to the case becoming the subject of a Gardai inquiry.
Mr Martin, who attended the school from 1966 when he was seven until 1971, traveled from Manchester last year to make a statement for Gardaí.
He was appointed spokesman for the complainants and said the group of men, now in their 50s and 60s, began sharing their experiences with the teacher on a social media group in 2019.
So many men came forward with “horror stories” about the former teacher, who taught at the school for over a decade, that the men decided to form an action group and alert the authorities.
“I have occasional memories of Gardaí’s school as a child, and parents often complained. We were all afraid of this man. But it was a different time,” said Mr. Martin.
“He could target you anytime for nothing. We were all terrified.
“The beatings were violent. One of his favorite things to do when running down the corridor was to trip you up with a golf club and hit you with it while you were on the ground.
“Another of his tricks was to pick you up by your ears and twist them until you passed out from the pain. Another thing he often did was grab you under your armpits and twist and pinch your skin, causing incredible pain.
“We don’t know if he received sexual gratification from the abuse he inflicted.”
Mr Martin said he was “one of the lucky ones” compared to some of his schoolmates who left lasting mental scars.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/gsoc-launches-probe-into-historical-physical-abuse-case-in-wicklow-primary-school-41862766.html GSOC opens investigation into historic case of physical abuse at Wicklow Elementary School