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EDITIONS
 Thursday, 23 January, 2003, 11:48 GMT
Payout for 'banned' pregnant pupil
Margaret McCluskey was awarded more than 6,000
Margaret McCluskey was awarded more than 6,000
A Northern Ireland girl who was banned from attending classes at her convent school after getting pregnant, has been awarded compensation in an out-of-court settlement.

Margaret McCluskey, now aged 21, was awarded more than 6,000 in the settlement with Mount Lourdes Grammar School in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh.

They... made me feel like a second-class citizen for expecting a baby

Margaret McCluskey
The school governors also agreed to review their pastoral care policy.

No-one was available for comment at the school.

Miss McCluskey, whose daughter Judina is four-years-old, is now in her final year at Cambridge University in England.

Miss McCluskey said she was excluded by the school when she was already feeling vulnerable and facing a "daunting situation".

"They not only denied my access to education in the weeks leading to my exams, but also made me feel like a second-class citizen for expecting a baby, something I found to be a violation of my human rights and dignity.

"I am relieved that not only Mount Lourdes, but all schools in the province, will now get the message that they will be held accountable when they act in this way."

'Distress'

In a statement, Mount Lourdes Grammar said that in reaching a settlement in the case, it accepted it had contravened the sex discrimination legislation.

"We regret this and the distress that has resulted for Margaret," it said.

"We never planned or indicated that she would be prevented from studying for A-levels in the school and indeed used our pastoral system to support her fully throughout her seven years in school."

Joan Harbison from the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland described it as a remarkable case.

"It does seem a bit extraordinary that she should have been subjected to this sort of treatment.

"We think she has been extremely brave, not only in the way she dealt with it at the time, but also in continuing to take the case so that things could be very different for other girls who might find themselves in this very difficult situation," said Ms Harbison.

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  BBC NI's Julian Fowler:
"She was called into the headmaster's office and told she was being suspended"
  Joan Harbison from the Equality Commission:
"She has been very brave to take this case"
  BBC NI's Kieron Tourish:
"Joan Harbison from the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland described it as a remarkable case"
See also:

11 Dec 01 | N Ireland
20 Dec 02 | N Ireland
16 Dec 02 | N Ireland
09 Dec 98 | Education
22 Jan 01 | Scotland
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