A new book by one of our regular contributors, Vicky Conway, has been published this week by Irish Academic Press. Entitled The Blue Wall of Silence: The Morris Tribunal and Police Accountability in the Republic of Ireland, it provides the first in-depth analysis of the impact of the most significant tribunal in the history of policing in Ireland. For those not familiar with the Tribunal, it examined and upheld serious allegations of negligence and corruption in the policing district of Donegal concerning the framing of two men for a murder when in fact the victim had died in a hit and run incident, the planting of hoax IRA bomb finds, the planting of weapons on a travellers halting site and the planting of an explosive device on a telecommunications mast. Read more…
The Faculty of Law, UCC, will be hosting an event on ‘Children’s Rights: The Proposed Constitutional Amendment’ on Thursday April 15.
Speakers will include:
- Emily Logan, Ombudsman for Children;
- Dr Conor O’Mahony, Lecturer in Constitutional Law, University College Cork;
- Rosemary Horgan, Family Law Solicitor, Ronan Daly Jermyn & Co.
The seminar will be chaired by Dr Ursula Kilkelly.
The event will run from 12.00-2.30 pm in Room LG 52, Cavanagh Pharmacy Building, College Road, Cork
A limited number of places are available, so please register your interest in attending by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Legal Practitioners: 2 Hours of CPD points are available for attendance at this event.
Following on from Cian’s earlier blog on the response of the DUP to the NIO’s Consultation Paper on a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland, it is worth noting that 24 March saw the Westminster Northern Ireland Affairs Committee release ‘A Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland: An Interim Statement‘.
Given the political make-up of that Committee, many of those in favour of a NIBOR regarded the NIAC’s decision to carry out such an inquiry as an effort on the part of political actors unhappy with the NIHRC’s advice to have ‘another bite at the cherry’. Arguably, the limited and poor quality consultation document produced by the NIO in response to the NIHRC’s advice rendered this unnecessary. (For a discussion of some of the criticisms made of the NIO document, see here)
Whatever its reasons, the Committee itself does not make an explicit recommendation either in favour or against a NIBOR. Rather it states: Read more…
Established in 2009, the Network comprises of researchers, students, academics and practitioners with an interest in criminology and the Irish criminal justice system. Members are from a range of academic institutions and agencies north and south of Ireland.
Members of the Network research and write about crime, criminal justice and criminology in Ireland and further afield. The blog aims to discuss issues of critical concern.
For more details, please contact Nicola Carr at email@example.com
Today on Human Rights in Ireland we are delighted to host a mini Blog Carnival on the draft wording for a constitutional amendment on the child set out in the final report of the Oireachtas Committee on the Constitutional Amendment on Children.
As one Carnival contributor highlights, the proposed amendment ‘offers much material for discussion in terms of scope, substance and process’. On the day upon which the Committee’s report was released, I wrote a piece analysing the draft wording from the perspective of the compliance of such with Ireland’s obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The contributions to today’s Carnival continue, and contribute significantly to, the widespread discussion and debate initiated by the publication of the Committee’s Final Report. Focussing on key questions related to the protection of children’s rights in Ireland, each commentator provides their perspective on issues arising from the proposed constitutional amendment wording.
- Fergus Ryan of DIT addresses the implications of the proposed constitutional amendment in terms of family law reform.
- Ursula Kilkelly of UCC considers the issue of the ‘best interests’ principle, which is explicitly included in the draft wording.
- The Children’s Rights Alliance sets out its response to the Committee’s proposed amendment, arguing that the time is ripe for constitutional change on children’s rights.
- Conor O’Mahony of UCC looks at the education-related implications of the draft wording.
- Nicola Carr of QUB discusses the proposed amendment in terms of the rights of children in care.
- Finally, Fiona de Londras of UCD and (of course) HRinI writes about the importance of a reflective and careful debate and the dangers of unquestioningly accepting the proposed wording
As always, comments are very welcome.
You can learn more about Fergus Ryan on our guest contributors page.
Waiting for family law reform is a bit like waiting for a bus. You linger forlornly for what seems likes an eternity, stoically weathering the elements. Then, just as you are about to give up, along comes a bus — and two more buses directly behind it.
In the past year, the Republic of Ireland has seen three major proposals for family law reform. The Civil Partnership Bill 2009, which is currently before the Dáil, promises a substantial new civil status for registered same-sex couples, with additional protective measures for cohabiting couples, same-sex and opposite-sex. The Law Reform Commission consultation paper, The Legal Aspects of Family Relationships, provisionally recommends some long overdue reforms to the law as it relates to guardianship, custody and access.
There is much to be welcomed also in the proposed constitutional amendment on children. For one, the proposed new Article 42 will apply to all children, and not just those born within marriage. The proposed amendment contains, in particular, a ground-breaking assertion that “[t]he State shall cherish all the children of the State equally.” This will banish, one hopes, the spectre of O’B v S,  IR 316, a Supreme Court decision that affirmed the constitutional validity of measures that discriminate against non-marital children. The Court concluded that the constitutional preference for marriage trumped the child’s right to equality. This constitutional amendment would arguably reverse that stance. Read more…
You can learn more about Ursula Kilkelly on our guest contributors page.
The report of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the amendment to the Irish Constitution includes a proposal to include what is commonly known as the ‘best interests principle’ into the new Article 42 in two forms. The first form appears in Article 42.1.2° which recognizes the rights of all children and specifies that this includes the right ‘to have their welfare regarded as a primary consideration’. Although this provision refers to ‘welfare’ rather than ‘best interests’ and so could be said to be narrower (and arguably more paternalistic) in nature it otherwise mirrors the standard set out in Article 3 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Although the latter has been criticised for not requiring that the child’s interests are paramount, its strength is that it has wide application, potentially applying to all areas of state decision-making that affect children. Including this principle here, therefore, should require the state to ensure that regard is had to the child’s welfare in areas like budgetary decision-making, planning, immigration and criminal justice. Read more…
You can learn more about Jillian van Turnhout on our guest contributors page.
The vision of the Children’s Rights Alliance is that Ireland will be one of the best places in the world to be a child. On 16 February 2010, the Joint Committee on the Constitutional Amendment on Children moved us that bit closer towards securing this vision, when it published its Final Report. Crucially, the Report includes all-party agreement on a proposed wording for a constitutional amendment to strengthen children’s rights and this, in itself, is a significant step forward.
A major stumbling block to realising our vision has always been the Irish Constitution – the fundamental law of the country. Written in 1937, at a time when children were ‘seen and not heard’ and where, for example, it was the norm for teachers to physically chastise children and for children to be seen as mere possessions of adults, it has become very outdated. A litany of reports, court cases, and inquiries, have, over the years, also highlighted the need for constitutional change for children. Read more…
You can learn more about Conor O’Mahony on our guest contributors page.
As part of the proposed constitutional amendment on children, the proposed new Article 42.2 proposes to enumerate, for the first time, a number of the rights of children, including “the right of the child to an education”. The proposal to include an explicit right of the child to education is welcome – indeed, it was recommended by the Constitution Review Group in 1996 – but in all probability, it changes little. The existence of such a right, correlative to the duty of the State under the existing Article 42.4 to provide for free primary education, was clearly reognised in Crowley v Ireland  I.R. 102 and has never been questioned since. The new provision could potentially be interpreted as being broader, given that it refers to “an education” rather than merely to “primary education”. However, it is unlikely that the courts – and particularly the current Supreme Court – would interpret this as including a positive right to education at a level higher than primary, given that the corresponding duty of the State under the re-numbered Article 42.8 would still refer only to primary education. While the Oireachtas Committee Report states that the rights that are recognised in the proposed Article 42.2 are “designed to make a tangible difference to children’s rights”, there is no suggestion that there was any intention to take a step as significant as extending the right to free State education beyond primary level, and in the absence of such a clear intention, no court is likely to so interpret the provision. Read more…