Who Pays The Piper

I was educated by the State.

The State paid for to build the schools I was taught in, designed the curriculum, paid my teachers’ salaries.

But the first school I went to wasn’t a State school.

It was owned and operated by the Catholic church.

We’re so used to ‘national schools’ which aren’t owned by the nation, we hardly bother to think about what it means.

Louise O’Keeffe learned to her cost what it means when she went to the High Court.

As a child, Loiuse was abused by her primary school principal.

After he pleaded guilty to separate charges of indecent assault in 1998, she sued the State.

She lost.

The judge said she was entitled to costs because she was abused by a State-recognised teacher in a State-recognised school.

He then awarded legal costs of €500,000 against her.

The State argues that it isn’t liable, because of the ‘essential and active role’ of the school patron of the school.

It says it would be illogical and unworkable to hold it vicariously liable for the actions of teachers it didn’t control, and would involve rewriting the 1998 Education Act.

I think they should just rewrite the act.

By Gerard Cunningham

Gerard Cunningham occupies his time working as a journalist, writer, sub-editor, blogger and podcaster, yet still finds himself underemployed.