Review of outstanding abuse cases in light of O'Keeffe judgment

Tuesday 04 February 2014 23.43
The ECHR ruled that the State was liable for sexual abuse Louise O'Keeffe suffered at primary school
The ECHR ruled that the State was liable for sexual abuse Louise O'Keeffe suffered at primary school

Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn has said there is to be a review of the outstanding school child abuse cases.

With assistance of the Attorney General he is seeking further legal advice on the full implications of the Louise O'Keeffe judgment.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled last week that the State was liable for the sexual abuse Ms O'Keeffe suffered while a national school pupil.

In 2009, the State Claims Agency wrote to 135 people with cases pending against the State, advising them to withdraw.

The letters warned that the State would pursue them for costs if they lost.

Today, the minister said the SCA has informed the Department of Education that there are 44 current day school abuse claims on hand.

The minister has asked his department, with the Attorney General's Office and the SCA, to review these cases and any other relevant cases with this in mind. 

Mr Quinn also endorsed the apology of the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste to Ms O'Keeffe. 

He noted that since 1973, when Ms O'Keeffe suffered sexual abuse, a comprehensive set of child protection measures has been put in place.

He said it is his intention to seek a fair and reasonable outcome for those involved in school child abuse cases, as soon as possible.

The minister also announced that, with the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, he has initiated a review of current and planned child protection systems, both generally and in schools, to ensure that they meet best practice standards.

Speaking as he arrived for today's Cabinet meeting, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said: "I can't give reassurances that sexual abuse won't continue.

"It's a horrible thing to have to say, it's an aspect of human nature that's scarred our memory."

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said the immediate priority for Government is "to do the right thing for Louise O'Keeffe".

He would not be drawn on whether a redress scheme would be put in place for other victims, but said the Cabinet would be looking at the ECHR recommendations.