Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD today challenged Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore TD to extend the apology offered to Louise O’Keeffe to all other victims of abuse in schools and to reengage with similar victims of abuse who have pursued the state for justice.
Speaking in the Dáil today, Deputy McDonald said:
“By any standards Louise O’Keeffe is an extremely courageous woman. Abused as a young child and traumatised as a result; Louise was blocked, bullied, brow beaten and threatened by the state yet she never lay down.
“Louise had to take her case to the European Court of Human Rights who found the state is directly liable for ‘the inhuman and degrading treatment’ she endured as a child under the states watch.
“Indeed the Court could have gone further and said that the state prevented any degree of fairness, justice or resolution of Louise’s case.
“While the previous Government must bear responsibility for what was done to Louise O’Keeffe under its direction; it was this Government which only last year argued that the state had no liability for what happened to children whilst attending primary school.
“It would be appropriate for the Taoiseach to come before the Dáil and apologise on behalf of the State to Louise O’Keeffe and all victims of abuse in schools.
“One hundred and thirty five adults have previously brought cases like that of Louise O’Keeffe’s, claiming the Department of Education and the state did not provide protection against the abuse they suffered as children in schools.
“Following the Supreme Court judgement in 2008 other victims pursuing their cases through the courts were warned off from holding the state to account and received letters threatening legal costs in the event they refused to drop their cases.
“The treatment of these victims including the threatening and aggressive way they were put off pursuing justice reminds many citizens of the case of Bridget McCole.
“Following the European Court of Human Rights findings will the Government now re-engage with these victims with the intend of settling their cases.”