Irish lawsuit ‘is for every abused child’

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A SURVIVOR of abuse has said she is hopeful European judges will move to protect children in her battle to hold the Irish state liable for her suffering at school.

If successful, a lawsuit brought by Louise O’Keeffe, 46, could spark a raft of claims from people denied compensation because abuse occurred in church-run or independent schools.

“It will be that rights will come right and the wrongs will be punished, and I’d hope the European courts will see my case for what it is and give me the judgment that is right – not just for me, but for every child that has been abused within the school system in Ireland.”

Ms O’Keeffe’s case is being heard by judges at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg today. It is almost 15 years since she began her action against the Irish state.

“At that time I never expected to be appealing to Europe to right the wrongs that happened to me as an eight-year-old,” she said. Ms O’Keeffe had feared at one point that her marathon legal battle could leave her in financial ruin and homeless.

She was abused at Dunderrow primary school in Cork in 1973 by the then principal. The state used the defence that the school was run by an independent board of management.