BY JACKIE KEOGH
WEST Cork abuse survivor, Louise O’Keeffe, has described as ‘a welcome development’ an apology made by the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, to pupils who were sexually abused in day schools.
At 2pm on Tuesday, the Taoiseach read into the Dáil record an apology that was made on behalf of the State, as well as his acknowledgement of the fact that the State had a responsibility to protect the children who were abused.
His comments came one day after Judge Iarfhlaith O’Neill announced the findings of his review of a redress scheme that the Government introduced in 2015.
Judge O’Neill concluded that the State had misinterpreted a ruling that was made in December 2014 in a case that Louise O’Keeffe brought to the European Court of Human Rights.
It was after 15 years of fighting her case in the Irish courts that Ms O’Keeffe secured the EU ruling, which held the Irish State to be liable for the sexual abuse she suffered in Dunderrow National School.
Although the State introduced the redress scheme shortly afterwards, it nevertheless insisted that survivors of sex abuse in primary schools needed to prove that there was a complaint made to authorities about their abuser before their abuse took place.
Judge O’Neill’s held this to be a misinterpretation of the EU court ruling, as well as being fundamentally unfair to the applicants because it denied them access to the redress scheme.
Judge O’Neill’s decision is expected to have implications for up to 350 survivors of children who were abused within the primary school system.