Action brought by pupil refused Irish exemption resolved

Action Brought By Pupil Refused Irish Exemption Resolved
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. Photo: PA Images
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High Court reporters

A High Court challenge brought on behalf of a student with special educational needs against a refusal by a secondary school to grant her an exemption from having to study Irish has been resolved.

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.


On Tuesday, Mr Justice Charles Meenan was informed by Derek Shortall SC, for the student, who had sued through her mother, that the case had been resolved following out-of-court talks and the proceedings could be struck out.

While no details of the resolution were given in open court, it is understood the proceedings were resolved to the plaintiff's satisfaction.

Neither the student nor the school which she attends can be identified by order of the court.

The court previously heard the student has been diagnosed with ADHD, ASD and anxiety. It was claimed that 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, following which she sought an exemption from learning Irish in the mainstream secondary school she attends.


However, her application was refused by the school's board of management. Despite the fact the girl required some special classes, it was claimed that 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'.

She did not have an exemption from having to learn Irish at primary school.


The girl's mother had claimed she was "not being provided with an appropriate education".

The failure to be granted an exemption diminishes her overall education, as well as impinging on her psychological integrity and as such is a violation of her constitutional rights, it was claimed.

The woman added that her daughter had been "struggling significantly" with Irish, which is causing her "unending stress and anxiety, due to her specific mix of educational needs".

Arising out of the refusal to grant the exemption, High Court judicial review proceedings were brought against the school’s board of management, as well as the Minister for Education and Skills, Ireland and the Attorney General.

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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 department and the action was primarily directed at the State respondents.

Among the declarations she had sought was one that the department's circular regarding exemptions unlawfully interferes with the student's right to an appropriate education.

She had also sought declarations, including that the school had been operating an inflexible policy in regard to exemptions.

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