January 26, 2021
Government must implement ECHR judgement on O’Keeffe Case – Senator Paul Gavan

Sinn Féin Senator Paul Gavan has called on the Irish Government to ensure full compliance with outstanding judgements of the European Court of Human Rights.

Speaking today to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Senator Gavan made specific reference to ‘O’Keeffe v Ireland’, a judgement made over six years ago regarding the failure of the Irish State to protect children from sexual abuse. 

Senator Gavan stated:

“Ireland has had a particularly shameful history when it comes to the sexual abuse of children, and in an action from over six years ago, Ms Louise O’Keeffe won her landmark case at the European Court of Human Rights. It was found that the State failed to protect her from sexual abuse in junior school in the 1970s.

“The European Court ruled that the State had failed to fulfil its obligation to protect Louise O’Keeffe from inhuman and degrading treatment and had failed to provide her with an effective remedy.

“The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission has warned that victims of historic child sexual abuse in schools are still being forced through the Courts to secure their rights, due to the Irish State’s narrow interpretation of the 2014 European Court of Human Rights judgment in the case of Louise O’Keeffe.

“Under the State’s restrictive interpretation of theruling, a victim of child sexual abuse is required to establish the existence of a prior complaint before the State’s liability was triggered.

“Ms O’Keefe wrote to the Taoiseach last July saying, ‘the State continues to fail its children by not fully accepting the responsibility that is and always was theirs to protect children from sexual abuse in our day schools’.

“I am calling on the Irish government to finally fulfil its duty, to end this shamefully narrow interpretation of the Court judgement and bring the execution of this judgement to a just conclusion.”

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