THE EDUCATION MINISTER has said that 44 day school abuse claims are to be reviewed in the wake of an EU court judgement on abuse suffered by Louise O’Keeffe.
Ruairí Quinn said today that the State Claims Agency has informed the Department that there are 44 current day school abuse claims.
Quinn has asked his Department, with the Attorney General’s Office and the State Claims Agency, to review these cases and any other relevant cases.
The Minister said that he will report back to Government on this in the near future.
Fair and reasonable outcome
He stated that his intention is “to seek a fair and reasonable outcome to those cases that come within the parameters of the ECHR judgement as soon as possible”.
Quinn made the comments while making a preliminary update on the implications of last week’s judgement from the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Louise O’Keeffe.
He endorsed the apology of the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste to Louise O’Keeffe, and said that he is now seeking legal advice on the full implications of the ECHR judgement – including for outstanding school child abuse cases, the system of child protection in schools and the general administration of the school system.
This is being undertaken with the assistance of the Attorney General.
The Minister said that he had every sympathy with those involved in school child abuse cases. He noted that none of the child protection architecture that is now in place was in place in 1973, when Louise O’Keeffe was sexually abused.
These include the Child Care Act 1991, the recent launch of the Child and Family Agency last week and the implementation of the Children First Guidelines.
In the area of schools, Garda vetting has been a requirement for new teaching and non-teaching staff since September 2006 and the Department of Education and Skills has been working closely with the Department of Justice and Equality and the Office of the Attorney General on the implementation of the National Vetting Bureau Act in the education sector.
The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs has teamed up with Minister Quinn for a review of current and planned child protection systems – both generally and in schools – to make sure that they meet best practice standards.
Quinn said that this Government “is committed to ensuring the protection of children is paramount”.
Arrangements are being made to pay the €30,000 damages and €85,000 in respect of the costs and expenses to Louise O’Keeffe and her legal representatives.