Louise O’Keefe after her 2014 victory
What has happened in the four years since the state was made to take its share of blame for the abuse in National Schools in Ireland?
Dr Conor O’Mahony, a deputy director of the Child Law Clinic at University College Court, writing for RTÉ [full article at link below], says:
For decades, the State failed to implement child protection frameworks in national schools. The European Court of Human Rights has already ruled [in the Louise O’Keeffe case, 2014] that this was partly to blame for abuse in those schools, but the State continues to fight survivors of abuse tooth and nail...
…The O’Keeffe judgment ought to have been a watershed moment in which the State’s role in facilitating heinous sex crimes against pupils in national schools was fully acknowledged and accepted.
Instead, the State immediately went into damage limitation mode.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s apology to Louise O’Keeffe pointedly referred to children “in the location where she was”, failing to acknowledge that the judgment concerned a systemic failure to supervise child protection in national schools rather than a specific failure to respond to a complaint in Dunderrow.
This pattern continued when a redress scheme was established for victims of sexual abuse in national schools as part of the State’s implementation of the judgment.
The scheme limited redress to those victims who could establish that their abuse had occurred in the aftermath of a prior complaint which had not been acted upon.
First, this distorts the true basis of liability in the O’Keeffe judgment. As the Court observed, the State’s obligations were
“not fulfilled when the Irish State … continued to entrust the management of the primary education of the vast majority of young Irish children to non-State actors (national schools), without putting in place any mechanism of effective State control against the risks of such abuse occurring”.
The emphasis was on risk and the need for preventive measures, not on investigation of actual abuse.
To say otherwise is equivalent to saying that a search party is an adequate substitute for a stable door.
Previously: Louise O’Keefe on Broadsheet