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Teacher Fails to Stop Second Suspension

Irish Times, October 28, 2010

A TEACHER has lost his High Court bid to stop a school re-suspending him over sex abuse allegations by pupils. Ms Justice Mary Laffoy said yesterday that Patrick McGlinchey and the school, which had suspended him 13 years ago, were “back to square one” despite their settlement of earlier legal proceedings.

The judge made the remark after finding Mr McGlinchey’s walkout last December from a new inquiry into allegations against him, amounted to a breach of a settlement of previous High Court proceedings.

Under that settlement, his suspension had been lifted pending the outcome of the new inquiry but after his walkout, the school moved to again suspend him.

The case arose after Mr McGlinchey (57), who is married with children and lives in Newport, Tipperary, was suspended on full pay in 1997 following allegations he abused a number of pupils in the school. In 2002, he was acquitted of sex abuse charges against two male pupils following a 19-day trial by judge and jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

When a new inquiry to determine whether he could return to work took place in December last year, he walked out on the second day after his lawyers disputed the decision of the inquiry’s independent adjudicator to deal with an allegation which had already been the subject of the criminal trial.

Mr McGlinchey then brought a High Court challenge, claiming the school was failing to abide with the terms of settlement of a previous High Court action. He also sought an injunction stopping the new inquiry and seeking damages.

After ruling in July that the matter should be dealt with under contract law, Ms Justice Laffoy invited lawyers for Mr McGlinchey and for the school to make legal submissions on the matter to her.

Yesterday, she ruled the consequence of Mr McGlinchey’s withdrawal from the inquiry, and later seeking reinstatement, amounted to a repudiatory breach of the terms of settlement of his previous High Court action. His suspension was therefore reinstated.

The judge said his position vis-a-vis the school, under his contract of employment, “is as it was before the terms of settlement were entered into”.

“Unfortunately, to put it colloquially, the parties are ‘back to square one’,” she added.

Earlier, the judge said she was satisfied the school was not in breach of the terms of settlement, as the termination of that settlement was precipitated by the conduct of Mr McGlinchey.

Despite the inquiry’s unfair procedure of dealing with an allegation of which Mr McGlinchey had been acquitted in the criminal courts, Mr McGlinchey could have continued on at the inquiry and, if necessary, challenged any adverse conclusions in relation to that particular allegation, the judge said.

He could alternatively have sought an adjournment of the inquiry to enable him to bring his High Court challenge to the adjudicator’s ruling.