Resolution reached in case over refusal of Irish exemption for student with special needs
Posted on 21st March 2023 at 22:26
No details given in open court but plaintiff is understood to be satisfied
A resolution has been found in a High Court challenge brought on behalf of a student with special education needs over a refusal by the secondary school she attends to grant her an exemption from having to study Irish.
The case was one of several similar High Court actions which were also settled after the State altered its regulations concerning exemptions from having to learn Irish.
Mr Justice Charles Meenan was informed on Tuesday by Derek Shortall SC, for the student, who had sued through her mother, that the case had been resolved against the State and the school and could be struck out. While no details of the resolution were given in open court, it is understood that the proceedings were resolved to the plaintiff’s satisfaction.
Neither the student nor the school she attends can be identified by order of the court.
The court previously heard that the student has been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism spectrum disorder and anxiety. It was claimed her condition was “exacerbated and triggered” by having to learn Irish.
A psychological assessment and other reports had recommended that the girl seek an exemption from having to learn Irish. Her application for an exemption, however, was refused by the school’s board of management, which said she did not meet the then criteria for an exemption.
Those criteria, which were in place when the case was initiated in late 2021, were contained in a Department of Education circular entitled “Exemption from the Study of Irish”.
The girl did not have an exemption from having to learn Irish at the primary school she previously attended. Her mother had claimed the girl was “not being provided with an appropriate education”. It was argued that the failure to be granted an exemption diminishes her overall education and impinges on her psychological integrity and is a violation of her constitutional rights.
Her daughter was “struggling significantly” with Irish which was causing her “unending stress and anxiety, due to her specific mix of educational needs”.
High Court judicial review proceedings were brought against the school’s board of management, the Minister for Education and Skills, Ireland and the Attorney General. She sought an order quashing the school board’s decision that the girl is not entitled to an exemption from learning Irish.
In the action, it was accepted that the girl’s school had been applying the criteria set down by the department and the action was primarily directed at the State respondents. Among the declarations she had sought was one that the circular regarding exemptions unlawfully interferes with the student’s right to an appropriate education.
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