Newstalk
Newstalk

09.42 28 Jan 2014


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The Education Minister says he needs to take legal advice before commenting further on the Louise O'Keeffe judgement at the European Court of Human Rights.

The Court overturned an Irish Supreme Court ruling that the State was not liable for the actions of the principal of her primary school when he abused her in the 1970s.

Ms. O'Keeffe was abused at Dunderrow National School near Kinsale in 1973 when she was aged 9. The principal, Leo Hickey, was later jailed and also paid Louise damages following a civil action.

Hickey was jailed for three years and was ordered to pay Ms. O'Keeffe over €300,000 in damages in a civil action.

Both the High Court and Supreme Courts dismissed a claim of direct negligence against the State because they said the State did not directly employ her abuser. Louise O'Keeffe took her case to the European Court of Human Rights, arguing in Europe that the structures in place did not properly protect her.

The court ruled in her favour by 11 votes to 6. In its judgement the court said it was an inherent obligation of a government to protect children from ill-treatment, especially in a primary education context.

It found that "That obligation had not been met when the Irish State...continued to entrust the management of the primary education of the vast majority of young Irish children to National Schools, without putting in place any mechanism of effective State control against the risks of such abuse occurring".

Louise O'Keefe has demanded an apology from the Taoiseach. The Education Minister Ruairi Quinn cannot say if that will be forthcoming.

Speaking in Cork just moments after the verdict was read, Ms. O'Keefe said it is not just a win for her, but for all children attending Irish schools - past and present.

Louise spoke to Newstalk Lunchtime following the verdict, and described how she felt when she won.

Her solicitor, Ernest J. Cantillon, told The Pat Kenny Show here on Newstalk that this verdict has wide-ranging implications.


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