Dunderrow National School in Kinsale, Co Cork where Louise O' Keefe was sexually abused by the school principal Leo Hickey in the 1973 when she was nine years old. Hickey was charged on 386 counts of sexual abuse involving 21 former pupils of the tiny school. In 1998, he pleaded guilty to 21 sample charges and was sentenced to three years in prison. The same year, Louise sued the Minister for Education and the Irish state on the grounds of negligence. She sought damages for personal injuries claiming Ireland had failed to put in place appropriate procedures to prevent and stop Hickey’s systematic abuse. In 2004, the claims of direct negligence against the State were dismissed.
With nowhere else left in Ireland to get justice, she took her case to the European Court of Human Rights after the Irish Supreme Court ruled the state could not be held responsible because the primary school system had to be viewed in its “specific context” of Irish history and the Catholic Church’s privileged position in Irish society. Dunderrow National School was managed by a priest on behalf of the Bishop of Cork and Ross.
In January 2014, the Strasbourg based court ruled that her rights had been violated on two counts; under article three of the European Convention on Human Rights which prohibits inhuman and degrading treatment and of article 13 which gives rights to an effective remedy.