Legal action by mother of suicide daughters
The mother of sisters Erin and Shannon Gallagher intends to take legal proceedings against school authorities.
Erin Gallagher (13) was found dead on October 27th last amid claims that she had been repeatedly bullied. Just six weeks later her sister Shannon was also found dead after she also took her own life.
Their mother, Lorraine Gallagher (36), says she is launching the legal challenge to find answers as to why more was not done to help her youngest daughter Erin.
Speaking in the presence of her solicitor Patsy Gallagher, Mrs Gallagher confirmed she had started legal proceedings against Donegal Vocational Education Committee for negligence and breach of duty.
A letter on behalf of Mrs Gallagher was sent to Donegal VEC by Gallagher Brennan Solicitors on December 4th – days before Erin’s older sister Shannon took her own life.
Solicitor Patsy Gallagher confirmed last night that his office had still not received a reply to that letter.
In the letter to the Donegal VEC on behalf of Lorraine Gallagher, Gallagher Brennan refer directly to Erin’s suicide.
“The aforementioned intended action arises because of negligence, breach of duty, including breach of statutory duty by you, your servants and/or agents, in the administration, supervision, control, management, running and operation of Finn Valley College and your duty of care to create and provide a safe, supervised, monitored, controlled working environment for all students attending this school.
“From our instructions it is quite clear that Erin Gallagher, deceased, was subjected on a weekly basis to a persistent, prolonged, aggressive campaign of both mental and physical torture, bullying, abuse, harassment, assaults and intimidation and was afforded little, if any, protection by you, your servants and/or agents,” says the letter.
It added that the impact of this, coupled with the “physical, emotional and psychological abuse”, had resulted in devastating consequences for Mrs Gallagher and her family.
Angry and numb
Speaking last night Mrs Gallagher said she was angry and numb at the deaths of her two daughters. She said all the warning signs were there for school authorities and the HSE to protect her children but the system failed them.
“Erin went from being a great student who regularly got As to a withdrawn student who got zero per cent in one of her last exams before she died. All the signs were there and not enough was done to protect her.”
Mrs Gallagher said her youngest daughter tried to take her life within her school, Finn Valley College, a number of weeks before she was found dead at home.
“She tried to take her own life and yet she was allowed to walk home from school that day. That school failed her. They knew she was vulnerable. How could they allow her to walk home?”
She said she had no doubt that Erin’s suicide directly led to her older sister Shannon’s death. “It was as if she became a different person overnight. She completely changed as a person. She would answer back and didn’t care about anything. She was also self-harming,” said Mrs Gallagher.
Shannon was admitted to voluntary care with a foster family in Castlefin with Mrs Gallagher’s consent as the family struggled to cope.