It’s time for the Government to stop hiding behind legal advice and do the right thing. When one stands back from the Louise O’Keeffe case, one can see that the Department of Education were intimately involved in the enterprise of providing education to Louise O’Keeffe.
In terms of the teacher who abused Louise O’Keeffe he was in involved in a tripartite contract. The other two parties to the contract were the Catholic Church and the State. A person involved in a tripartite contract where one of the contracting parties abused a client, customer or student would recognise that they had a responsibility as a co-contractor.
The right thing to do in those circumstances is to admit to one’s role in the arrangement and seek to make amendments. One would also immediately put in place a regime to prevent a reoccurrence.
In Louise O’Keeffe’s case the State used every legal device to evade responsibility. Is that what we expect our representatives to do? It is not what I expect my representative to do nor do I think it is what most right people think should be done.
The State were quick, after the Supreme Court decision, to write to the 135 victims of sexual abuse who had cases pending against the State. They wrote, after the Supreme Court to all of these victims threatening them with an Order for Costs if they didn’t withdraw their cases. They should do the right thing now (albeit belatedly) and write to these 135 victims. They should apologise and invite them to meet for negotiations.
The State should, of course, also immediately put in place a statutory framework to make them compliant with the European Convention of Human Rights. There remains in place no statutory framework that is designed to protect children from abuse. There is a plethora of circulars and guidelines and the like but there is no statutory framework. What sort of signal does that send to abusers and/or their victims?
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