Sunday 8 December 2019

Minister set to appeal aspects of Rebecca Carter ruling

Rebecca Carter
Rebecca Carter

Pádraig Byrne

The Minister for Education is to appeal certain aspects of a landmark ruling in favour of a Wexford student whose Leaving Cert points were wrongly added up.

Rebecca Carter from Castlebridge won her high court case and was able to take up her place studying on a veterinary course in UCD last October. However, Minister for Education Joe McHugh has taken exception with some of the language used by High Court Judge Mr Justice Richard Humphreys and has stated in appeal documents, contrary to what the Judge said, that no individual has the right of access to higher education.

Minister McHugh pointed out that the appeal has nothing to do with the particulars of Rebecca Carter's case and that her place in UCD will not be threatened by the Court of Appeal case, which is due to be heard in April.

In his ruling in the case, Mr Justice Humphreys stated: 'In the modern world, it is difficult and in some cases impossible to earn one's livelihood without access to higher education and vocational training.'

'He or she who wills the end must will the means. The recognised constitutional right to earn a livelihood would be meaningless without the concomitant recognition of a right of reasonable access to available higher education and vocational training, commensurate with the ability of the citizen.'

'Therefore,' he concluded. 'The latter right must be regarded as a constitutional right that flows from the former right.'

An appeal filed on behalf of the Minister aims to argue that no such right to higher education exists in law.

'The findings of the High Court, as appealed, have broad implications and will most likely result in others initiating proceedings in reliance on those findings,' the document stated. 'The Minister is anxious to bring legal clarity to the issues he has sought to appeal(...) in advance of the allocation of places for higher education or vocational training for the academic year commencing in autumn 2019.'

Wexford People

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