The Government has approved proposals to offer out-of-court settlements to those bringing cases of school child sexual abuse against the State, where the cases fall within the terms of the European Court of Human Rights decision in O’Keefe v Ireland.
In O’Keefe, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) found that the Irish State had failed to protect Ms O’Keefe because it did not have proper systems in place to prevent or punish sexual abuse. The ECtHR ruled that there had been a violation of article 3, the prohibition on torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and article 13, the right to an effective remedy.
The settlement scheme was proposed by Minister for Education, Jan O’Sullivan TD, who said that this offer represented a “balanced and equitable response” by the State in relation to those cases that come within the parameters of the ECtHR judgment.
There were 45 cases open at the time of the O’Keefe decision in January 2014, and some new cases have been initiated since then. The State Claims Agency will engage with solicitors of these cases to clarify their position and to make settlement offers, where appropriate, however some cases will not come within the terms of the O’Keefe decision.
The amounts of the settlement will vary according to the circumstances of each case and will be up to a maximum of €84,000 which was the settlement Louise O’Keefe received from the State, including the award from the Criminal Inquiries Compensation Tribunal and the amount awarded by the European Court of Human Rights.
Ms O’Keefe has expressed disappointment with the terms of the plan at a meeting with the Minister, in advance of the approval. She feels strongly that claims should not be limited only to those cases which fall within the terms of the ECtHR judgment.
Click here to read the press release from the Department of Education.
Click here to read the full judgment of O’Keefe v Ireland.