A retired primary school teacher who indecently assaulted his pupils in his classroom in Dublin five decades ago has been jailed for three years.

Patrick Harte of Glendown Park, Templeogue, Dublin, was found guilty last March of the abuse of seven primary school boys at Synge Street between September 1968 and September 1970.

The 78-year-old denied the charges and claimed in a speech to the court the State had "validated" his teaching at the time and could not now "invalidate it".

Judge Martin Nolan said today that Harte had breached his position of trust and his behaviour was particularly reprehensible.

He also commended the victims for their courage.

The men who were abused in the 1960s and 1970s by Harte said they have finally been believed and have won their fight for justice.

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An emotional Fr Tony Conlon, now a catholic priest, said afterwards they had fought for seven years and thanked the gardaí, the DPP, the prosecution services, and One in Four who had helped them over the years.

Harte repeatedly and continuously indecently assaulted his pupils in the Christian Brothers school in Synge Street amidst an atmosphere of severe corporal punishment, physical and verbal abuse, violence and terror.

He regularly beat the children with "the leather" and once smashed a child's head against a wall.

Harte found reasons to call the boys up to his desk, sometimes for praise and other times for correction of minor misbehaviour.

He would warn the rest of the class to look at their books and not raise their heads before he indecently assaulted the children.

Harte was convicted of 11 counts of indecent assault against seven boys between September 1968 and September 1970.

Judge Nolan told him today he had breached his position of trust, that his behaviour was particularly reprehensible and sentenced him to three years in prison.