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One of Ireland's most prestigious fee-paying schools rocked by sex abuse allegations

NewsBy Patrick O'Connell
Controversy: Claims have rocked the posh boys' school
Controversy: Claims have rocked the posh boys' school

ONE of the country’s most prestigious fee-paying boys’ schools has been rocked by allegations that a former pupil was sexually abused by a worker in the school.

Belvedere College – where students pay up to €5,000 a year in fees – is currently “facilitating” a Garda investigation into the alleged abuse, which is being operated out of Mountjoy Garda Station.

The Sunday World can reveal the allegations were made known in September.

Documentation obtained by the Sunday World shows a garda attached to the Child Protection Unit in Mountjoy Garda Station wrote to the college saying she “had been assigned to investigate an alleged sexual assault” alleged to have occurred in the 1990s.

“I have been supplied with a list of past pupils by the complainant who he believes may be able to help with my enquiries,” she wrote.

“I am trying to make contact with these past pupils to see if they witnessed anything that might help with this investigation.”

The Sunday World has also obtained follow-up documentation issued by headmaster of the school Gerry Foley to a number of past students identified by the alleged abuse victim.

“My apologies for passing on this communication, which I hope will not cause you any anxiety,” he wrote.

“The College does not pass on data on past pupils unless legally required. Therefore I am facilitating the Garda investigation by passing on the letter of the investigating garda.”

The letter went on to give the former students details of two senior members of the Jesuit Province with whom they could “discuss the matter”.

“Please note that all contact will be treated with respect and in the strictest confidence. The College has a Child Protection Policy and rigorous cross-checking procedures to protect all students and staff.”

Belvedere College currently has 970 pupils. 

Belvedere is one of the most prestigious schools in the country, with famous past pupils including Cardinal Desmond Connell, former Taoiseach Dr Garret FitzGerald, businessman Anthony O’Reilly and writer James Joyce.

It also counts among its past pupils Ireland rugby player Cian Healy, UFC champ Cathal Pendred and actor Jack Reynor.

Despite numerous attempts by the Sunday World to speak with Mr. Foley, he did not return our calls.

A spokesperson for the Jesuit Communications Office yesterday confirmed the school was aware of the investigation: “The school was asked to facilitate Gardai in the course of an ongoing investigation and that is what they did. We don’t know anything more than that.”