WEST Cork mother-of-two, Louise O’Keeffe has been honoured this week for her work campaigning for justice for victims of child sexual abuse in schools when she received the Spirit of Mother Jones Award.
Ms O’Keeffe, who was abused by schoolteacher Leo Hickey in Dunderrow National School in the 1970s, has spent 15 years trying to get justice for herself and other victims of school abuse.
After failing in the Irish courts to have the Dept of Education found liable for Hickey’s abuse, she took her case to the European Court of Human Rights and won in 2014.
Since then Ms O’Keeffe has criticised the government’s interpretation of the ECHR ruling where the state argued it was only liable where there had been a prior complaint of abuse against a teacher.
Ms O’Keeffe said the government’s interpretation of the ECHR judgment was discriminatory in that it created two categories of abuse victims among those abused by school teachers.
But just last month, Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill found the government had misrepresented the ECHR ruling when it came to operating a redress scheme for those abused by teachers in Irish schools.
Jim Nolan of the Cork Mother Jones Committee said this week that Ms O’Keeffe was a worthy winner of the Spirit of Mother Jones Award which honours those who fight against injustice. She was presented with the award at the Mother Jones Festival in Cork City.