Minister to report on review of State Claims Agency of cases brought by abuse victims

Review identifies which cases fall within the parameters set by the European Court of Human Rights in Louise O’Keeffe case

Louise O’Keeffe, who was sexually abused by her teacher Leo Hickey at Dunderrow National School in West Cork in the 1970s, successfully brought her case to the European Court of Human Rights last year after the Supreme Court had ruled  Ireland was not liable for the abuse. Photograph: Garrett White/Collins court

Louise O’Keeffe, who was sexually abused by her teacher Leo Hickey at Dunderrow National School in West Cork in the 1970s, successfully brought her case to the European Court of Human Rights last year after the Supreme Court had ruled Ireland was not liable for the abuse. Photograph: Garrett White/Collins court

Fri, Aug 1, 2014, 20:39

Minister for Education Jan O’Sullivan will report to the Dáil in the autumn on a review of cases brought on foot of the O’Keeffe judgement by people who were sexually abused by their teachers .

Louise O’Keeffe, who was sexually abused by her teacher Leo Hickey at Dunderrow National School in West Cork in the 1970s, successfully brought her case to the European Court of Human Rights last year after the Supreme Court had ruled that Ireland was not liable for the abuse.

The ECHR ruled in January that Ireland had failed to meet its obligation to protect Ms O’Keeffe from the sexual abuse she suffered while a primary school pupil.

At the time, Ms O’Keeffe’s solicitor, Ernest Cantillon said the State had 135 claims from people who had been sexually abused by their teachers pending a ruling judgement in the case. Mr Cantillon said the State should now move to address them as quickly as possible.

The Department of Education issued a statement today in which it said it had drawn up an action plan to be published by the Council of Europe in response to the judgement of the ECHR in Ms O’Keeffe’s case.

And it said that the State Claims Agency, which is handling the relevant litigation, has been reviewing its day school abuse cases to “identify those that come within the parameters of the judgement”. This review has now been completed, it said.

“The Department of Education & Skills is considering this review in consultation with the Office of the Attorney General, and the Minister for Education and Skills will be reporting back to Government on issues related to the handling of this litigation in the autumn.”

Regarding its action plan to protect children, the department pointed out that the Action Plan records the fact that Ireland has been developing and improving its child protection arrangements since the early 1970s, when Ms O’Keeffe was abused.

The Action Plan also points out that the Department of Education issued guidelines to schools in three phases, in 1991/1992, 2001/2004 and again in 2011 while a review has also been initiated since the ECHR judgement in January.

This review aims to assess the extent to which issues identified in the judgment have been addressed in the period since 1973 and is being carried out by a sub-committee within the Inter- Departmental Implementation Group on Children First.