May 062009
 

The Supreme Court decided today that Louise O’Keeffe will not have to pay the State’s legal costs after losing a legal action for damages as a result of sexual abuse by a teacher.

Louise O’Keeffe was eight years old in 1973 when she was sexually assaulted by her headmaster, Leo Hickey, who inflicted appalling damage on her. This abuser was subsequently convicted, in 1998, of 21 sample abuse charges involving 21 girls, from a total of 380 charges. In other words, Leo Hickey is a mass rapist and child abuser.

That same year, Louise O’Keeffe instituted proceedings against the State and also against her abuser, Hickey, whose salary was paid by the State. The government contested the case on the grounds that it had no liability. Hickey, though paid from public funds, was employed by the local bishop because the school was run by the Catholic diocese. The State won and Louise O’Keeffe was faced with a huge legal bill. I don’t know why Louise didn’t sue the bishop as well, but this detail turned out to be crucial.

Strangely, though the State denied all liability in this matter, it was agreeing at the very same time to underwrite the costs of the Catholic church in regard to children abused in residential institutions.

The logic of this was that, since the State had placed these children in the hands of the sex abusers, the State bore some responsibility. Oddly enough, the State had responsibility for the children it placed in residential confinement, but not to children such as Louise O’Keeffe, brutally sexually abused by a man actually in the pay of the State.

Bizarre logic.

Sadly, the other victims of Hickey’s crimes now seem to have no remedy because, in waiting for Louise’s test case to be decided, too much time passed. It appears that a case against the diocese would be statute barred, unless the diocese decided to make a Christian gesture and compensate Hickey’s victims as a gesture of human compassion and kindness. Going on the evidence so far, Christian compassion and kindness don’t seem to be areas the Catholic church has much expertise in.

We ended up carrying all of the responsibility for the residential institutions, as it turned out, since Bertie Ahern was in such a magnanimous mood towards his former employers, the Mercy nuns, one of whose members conducted the negotiations.

The cost to the taxpayer of this agreement is now somewhere in the order of €1,200 million, while the Catholic church’s contribution was limited to €128 million, in a secret agreement reached between Dr Michael Woods and the clergy. Furthermore, the church’s cash contribution is nowhere near the agreed €128 million, because much of this figure was offset against the value of church-owned lands previously transferred to State ownership. Lands whose monetary value could never be realised by the State. In other words, you and I and every other taxpayer are down €1.2 billion to bail out an abusing institution, much like we bailed out the banks, except that the banks have muttered some sort of grudging apologies and some of the bankers have resigned.

Not so the State, I’m afraid. The good news for Louise O’Keeffe comes on the same day that the Children’s ombudsman, Emily Logan, has announced suspension of the investigation into the child abuse audit by the Department of Health and the HSE. This was intended to establish exactly how the Catholic dioceses were dealing with child abuse issues.

Here’s what he Ombudsman’s office has said:

Since the investigation commenced four months ago, the HSE has failed to provide any of the documentation requested by the Ombudsman for Children. Despite a public statement and private assurances of its cooperation, the HSE has not engaged with the investigation by the Ombudsman for Children’s Office.

The Health Service Executive, it seems, tried to conduct all correspondence with the Ombudsman’s office through senior counsel, costing thousands a day, and Ms Logan quite properly told them to get stuffed.

One of the problems with the original child protection audit was that the bishops refused to complete all of the sections on the questionnaire.

So there you have it. A lot of denial is going on.

The State denies responsibility for child victims like Louise O’Keeffe because such people have no power and because no clergy were in need of protection with the taxpayer’s money.

The bishops refuse to fill out a simple form.

The Health Service Executive refuses to cooperate with the Ombudsman for children.

On the other hand, there was a big, big yes!! when Sister Helena O’Donoghue came looking for €1.2 Billion of your money to cover the clergy’s exposure as a result of abusing thousands of children in their slave-labour camps. Could that have been because Bertie used to work for Helena as a book-keeper?

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Previously:

The Sisters of Mercy

What Dirt Have the Nuns Got on Bertie Ahern?

  17 Responses to “Louise O’Keeffe and Sexual Abuse in Ireland”

Comments (17)
  1.  

    I don’t know Louise O’ Keeffe, or anyone belonging to her (to my knowledge, although I am from Cork).
    I don’t have a notion who Leo Hickey is either (other than the fact that he is a convicted child abuser, although I am a teacher, like he was).
    I do know that the Government always deny employing teachers, despite paying their salaries; being listed on teacher’s P60s (as a number in the Employer section); sending their inspectors to inspect them; paying grants to the school; paying their pensions; setting the curriculum; certifying their qualifications to teach; passing them as fit to teach via their inspectors when they come out of college; paying institutions to educate them in a certain manner;…….
    I do know that the Department of Education and Science should accept that teachers are their employees.
    DES should accept liability for abuse in schools.
    The Bishop should also accept liability.
    In my experience, the Bishops will obfuscate until the cows come home, and then start all over again. They will try to wear you down, try to frighten you, try to ignore you, try to run away…….
    I do know that Louise O’ Keeffe is a brave woman to go up against these boys, and I admire her greatly.
    I do know that it makes me sick to hear all of these creatures denying responsibility for what was done to innocent little children, by a sick pervert, in what should have been a safe place – a school!!!
    The scary thing is that, mark my words, this is still going on, and neither the Church nor the State care a damn.

  2.  

    The silence of the comments to this post is frightening.

    No consolation I know but I believe the lot of them will burn in hell.

    I’d have more time for Hitler the shit!

  3.  

    Bock and all this post may offend. Perhaps you should switch off now.
    Still with me? O.K. in what way does my money and your money “compensate“. anyone abused as a child? Perhaps we should pay 90% Tax in order to allow this “compensation” How does money fix any problem? It pays the Bankers and the Legal Eagles . Perhaps turning the abused into whores and rent boys.

    I did warn this could offend.

  4.  

    Money matters.
    When people get stung by a fine, they tend to learn a lesson faster than not.
    Ideally, the Church / the Patron would pay.
    If the DES have to pay, then yes, we as tax payers take the hit, but then we can hit back at the politicians by sacking them!!

  5.  

    Gary

    It would take all night to go through that with you and I don’t really have either the time or the inclination.

    The money is not compensation, since nothing could possibly compensate for what was done to these people. The experiences they had as children stunted their entire adult lives and for the most part prevented them from realising their full potential either as human beings or simply as wage earners. Therefore, most of the victims have, among their other handicaps, an extreme shortage of money due to the emotional and physical damage inflicted on them by the clergy.

    If you need further explanation, I recommend researching it yourself instead of flinging insults at the victims of a crime.

  6.  

    “It would take all night to go through that with you and I don’t really have either the time or the inclination”
    Bock Point taken and accepted. I no longer have endless amounts of Gold to pay for the abuse .Perhaps you do? Somehow I have found that the World goes on and does not owe me a living.
    Others seem to be of the opinion that they and their “learned friends” are worth Millions at my and your expense.

    I ought not have replied.

  7.  

    The Catholic church has the money. Neither you nor I should be paying for these crimes.

  8.  

    It seems that the message has not got through The republic of Ireland is broke . No more money for anything. The “poor little me syndrome “is now lying with the Tiger in their grave.

    To me child abuse is both unmanageable and abhorrent . How does tax payers money fix this?

    In my opinion it does not! We no longer have the Gold to give the “legal eagles” to take such cases to the courts .

    Hard times have come again!

  9.  

    Gary : you’re off on a ramble down the street and a CIE bus ploughs into you, causing you injuries that cost you. You’d expect to be compensated, I’d guess, or would you make the grand gesture and forego compo for the good of the country? Simple – I hope.

  10.  

    Martin odd that you should have chosen this example. I did fall under a Bus. It was My fault. The poor driver picked me up, He was more distressed than I was . Did I sue? NO! The World does not owe us a living. We need to work. This case has cost us a fortune in fees for the legal eagles. I am sick of making scumbags Millionaires.

  11.  

    You’re surely not suggesting it was the victims’ fault they were abused, are you?

  12.  

    Gary : Oh…fair enough then (scratches head and moves off, at a fair clip, whistling a popular ditty)

  13.  

    To me child abuse is both unmanageable and abhorrent . How does tax payers money fix this?

    With respect Bock please explain. Why should I pay for the crimes of others? What use is money to fix child abuse? If it be true it seems that Louse O’Keeffe is now happily settled in a situation with children .

    How would our money change her abuse? Her life of course and the lives of her legal advisors yes.

    Money will not bring back her childhood .

    The party is over Folks. No more Money for nothing and the chicks are free .

  14.  

    I didn’t say you should pay for the crimes of others. I said the clergy should be made to carry the consequences for what they did.

  15.  

    ” if it be true it seems that louise( not louse as you spelled it ) is now happily settled in a situation with children.” What the hell does that mean? Compensation is to acknowledge a wrong has been commited ! Child abuse is unmannageable? there is some off here.

  16.  

    http://www.independent.ie/multimedia/archive/00323/CICA-Executive_Summ_323482a.pdf

    Everyone in Ireland should read the above. It is extremely disturbing to read, but shows how Ireland used to be, it is part of each and everyone of us and should not be put behind closed doors as before. We need to learn to speak out if we fear, sense something is not right, and not fall into the ‘snobbery of Ireland’ that our society promoted before. This is only the opening of a can of worms for Ireland and we need to learn more and understand what went wrong and not to tolerate things as before, as we no longer live in fear of the Church.

    As Secrecy was a huge problem in Ireland, we must learn to speak out because the Church no longer controls us. We should no longer live in judgement of others and condemn others in order to protect our name. The Church and The State and us Irish have alot to answer for, we turned our backs on our children, those who were poor, humiliated them; gave no protection whatsoever when they were at their most vulnerable – my belief is this is Irelands Hallocaust. This is a lesson to be learned by all of us, we need to stop this tortue, learn to listen our children….

    The cycle needs to be stopped now or it will keep on going like a snowball out of control…

  17.  

    Louise O’Keeffe is right in what she is doing and extremely brave because it is her and our responsibility as Irish citizens to speak out against the current system which is not in the best interests of our children. The cosy collaboration between Church and State exists because the State believes that is the cheapest way to fulfil its responsibility of providing free education. The State and more particularly Fianna Fail (who has been in power 90% of the time since the country became independent) has always chosen short-term perceived savings over long-term strategies. The result is that in 2012 there IS no state-run educational system in Ireland, just a sort-of farming out of the state’s responsibilities to third-party bodies like the Church. That is intolerable, for the children, and for those seeking to work in Ireland/s educational system. Primary teachers still have to train in church-run training colleges, and if they don’t want to work in Catholic schools they basically don’t work because the so-called “choice” provided by the Educate Together sector is so scant as to be almost laughable, utterly insufficient and still representing only a tiny precentage of the primary school sector. This is a human rights issue and Louise is to be commended for trying to draw attention to it.

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