Damages of pounds 1m to abused family

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The Independent Online
Damages of more than IRpounds 1m were agreed yesterday in a negligence action arising from Ireland's worst ever sex abuse case. Lawyers for the North Western Health Board agreed to pay the damages to Sophia McColgan, 27, her sister and two brothers.

The out-of-court settlement came after a 13-day hearing in the Dublin High Court. Joseph McColgan, the father of the four children, was jailed for 12 years in 1995 after being convicted of assaults on them from 1976 until 1993, including rape and buggery. He also beat his son Gerard with a shovel and a spanner, breaking his arm. It also emerged he had used a cattle syringe to inject spermicide into his daughters' vaginas to prevent them becoming pregnant.

The defence effectively collapsed after it emerged health board files confirmed that in 1979 Mrs McColgan had complained of her husband beating her children, and that she had discussed putting them into care.

She had also talked of getting a separation after the eldest child Sophia, then 10, was admitted to hospital after her father, a County Sligo farmer, had broken her nose.

The McColgan children sued the board and their GP. The settlement was agreed without admission of liability. Sophia McColgan urged other victims of abuse "to realise that there is no shame in having been abused. The shame lies with the abuser and not with the victim".