Irish Times, Sat, May 16, 2009
Teacher Patrick McGlinchey with his wife Dympna. Mr McGlinchey's 12-year suspension was lifted yesterday.
Photograph: Garrett White
A TEACHER acquitted almost seven years ago of sexually abusing pupils has had his 12-year suspension from his job quashed in settlement of his High Court action yesterday seeking reinstatement to his post.
Patrick McGlinchey (56) will not however return to work until an independent inquiry into the suspension is held by the special needs school where he was employed before his suspension.
Mr McGlinchey, who is married with children and lives in Newport, Co Tipperary, was suspended in 1997 following allegations he abused a number of pupils in the school. He denied any such abuse.
An investigation by the Health Service Executive (HSE) into the allegations had concluded he was a risk to children. Mr McGlinchey disputed the fairness of that investigation. A senior HSE social worker who later assessed Mr McGlinchey concluded he was not a danger to children.
In 2002, he was acquitted of sex assault charges following a 19-day trial by judge and jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.
Mr McGlinchey had denied the charges and witnesses who gave evidence on his behalf included a large number of teachers and two parents of children whom he taught. Despite his acquittal, he has remained suspended on full pay for some 12 years.
He took High Court proceedings seeking reinstatement which began last Wednesday before Mr Justice John Hedigan.
Yesterday, following talks between the sides, Peter Finlay SC, with Michael Maloney, said the matter had been resolved and a settlement statement would be handed in. As part of that settlement, the parties agreed to an order quashing the suspension forthwith and to the holding of an independent inquiry, in private, into that suspension.
It was also agreed he would not return to work pending the outcome of that inquiry and that the other terms of settlement, which were a full and final settlement of all claims, would be confidential. The proceedings against the HSE could be dismissed, counsel added.
Mr Justice Hedigan said he was glad the matter had been resolved and hoped all parties could get on with their lives.
Afterwards, Mr McGlinchey declined to comment but his wife Dympna said they were very happy with the outcome and it had been a very tough 12 years for the family. In his action, Mr McGlinchey sought declarations his continued suspension was unlawful, that he was entitled to work at the school, and that the school and the HSE had acted in breach of natural and constitutional justice.
Mr Finlay had argued the HSE investigation finding that his client was a risk to children was without truth or merit. It was submitted the board of the school failed to hold an independent inquiry despite requests to do so.
There was a need for such an inquiry given there was a conflict of interest for the board because two of its members had also been accused of sexual abuse and the board itself was also being sued, along with the teacher, by a number of parents, the court was told.