Ireland and Child Abuse

The New York Times

JAN. 31, 2014

For years, the government of Ireland has denied liability for child sexual abuse by teachers in state-financed schools managed by the Roman Catholic Church. The European Court of Human Rights punctured this denial Tuesday with a finding that the Irish government, in financing and regulating the education of youngsters, had “an inherent obligation” to protect them, and owed compensation to a victim whose case was rejected as groundless by Ireland’s highest court.

The European court pointed to the obvious: The Irish government is responsible for failing to act against inhuman and degrading treatment of citizens that is specifically barred under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The court ordered more than $150,000 in compensation and court costs for Louise O’Keeffe, who had been repeatedly abused 40 years ago as a 9-year-old at the national school at Dunderrow, County Cork.

The abuser was a lay teacher, Leo Hickey, who was not charged for 20 years, even though parents had complained about him to a school administrator in the early 1970s. The scandal finally broke into the open in the 1990s and the abuser was sentenced to three years in prison after being charged with 386 criminal offenses involving 21 youngsters.

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