Kenny declines to say if State will apologise to Louise O’Keeffe

Sinn Féin leader says State opposed O’Keeffe at every turn


Taoiseach Enda Kenny has told the Dáil that Louise O’Keeffe should never have been subject to the sexual abuse she suffered.

“This was another example of the horrific regime and sort of environment that children and young people lived in,” he said.

But the Taoiseach declined to respond to a call from Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams to apologise to Ms O’Keeffe.

The European Court of Human Rights overturned a Supreme Court judgment and ruled that the State failed to meet its obligation to protect Ms O’Keeffe from the sexual abuse she suffered while a pupil in an Irish national school. Ms O’ Keeffe took her case to the European Court after the 2009 Supreme Court ruling that the State was not legally liable for the abuse suffered by her when she was a nine-year old girl at Dunderrow National School.

Mr Adams said in the Dáil the State opposed her at every turn, “under your predecessor, not your Government”.

Asking when the Criminal Law Sexual Offences Bill would be introduced, Mr Adams also asked: “Will the State apologise to Louise O’Keeffe for what she had to go through?”

Mr Kenny said “Louise O’Keeffe should never have been subject to the sexual abuse she suffered”.

He added that “her case today clearly indicates the scale of that historical abuse and the failures and inaction to protect children”.

The Taoiseach said the ruling “required detailed consideration by the Government. The protection of children is absolutely a priority for the Government.”

That was why a dedicated Department of Children and Youth Affairs was set up and a referendum held on children’s rights . He added that only a major transformation of child protection would do.

Mr Kenny said the Criminal Law Sexual Offences Bill would be published and enacted later this year.

He told the House the Minister for Justice had commenced the Criminal Justice Withholding of Information on Offences against Children and Vulnerable Persons Act 2012.

“It is now the responsibility of every member of society to protect and defend the vulnerable from this most serious of crimes.”