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Posts Tagged ‘children’

“Romeo and Juliet”: Gender discrimination law challenge rejected

March 26, 2010 2 comments

The High Court has today rejected a challenge to the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act, 2006 which was based on a claim of gender discrimination. The case involved a young man, now aged 18, who had sexual intercourse with a girl of 14 when he himself was 15.

The legislation in question provides for the offences of “defilement of a child under 15 years of age” (s. 2) and “defilement of a child under 17 years of age” (s. 3). Under both of these provisions it is an offence to engage in a sexual act with a child under the relevant age. However, s. 5 of the 2006 Act states that

A female child under the age of 17 years shall not be guilty of an offence under this Act by reason only of her engaging in an act of sexual intercourse.

The claim before  the High Court was that the 2006 Act involved old-fashioned gender discrimination, which had no legitimate justification. Read more…

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Children and the Criminal Justice System

March 13, 2010 4 comments

The return of Jon Venables, one of the men (then boys) convicted of the murder of Jamie Bulger has sparked a fresh debate on how we respond to children who commit crimes and what we expect the criminal justice system to achieve in such cases.

Today the Ministry of Justice in the UK has announced that it has rejected calls to raise the age of criminal responsibility from ten to twelve. Scotland is in the process of amending its legislation to raise the age of responsibility from eight to twelve. Ireland made similar moves in 2001 under the Childrens Act, however in serious cases (murder, manslaughter, rape or aggravated assault) ten or eleven year olds can be prosecuted. Read more…

Recent Stories in Children’s Rights

February 4, 2010 4 comments

We are still awaiting a draft version of the proposed children’s rights amendment to the Constitution. Aoife blogged about the proposal here. The government serves children very badly, as the Children’s Rights Alliance reminded us last week.  In the fortnight since the announcement was made that the draft constitutional amendment was on the brink of publication  a number of important stories touching on children’s rights in Ireland have broken.

  • Fine Gael provides a very good summary of the outstanding issues in the child protection system here .
  • The Examiner reports on the serious consequences for children with learning difficulties of the budget-driven withdrawal of support teachers here.
  • Last year was the worst year since 2006 for migrant children disappearing from State care. Fine Gael’s response is here and you can read the Irish Times report on the same issue here . The HSE on Monday said that  ‘it has been unsubstantiated that any of the children who go missing from HSE care have been trafficked’. However, the Children’s Rights Alliance provides this statement in which it convincingly argues that  ‘it is a matter of public record that children, who have disappeared from HSE care, have subsequently been ‘found’ in situations where they were being exploited by traffickers. ‘

Civil Partnership Bill, 2nd Stage Debate (1) – Practical Points

January 22, 2010 2 comments

Labour's Ruairi Quinn speaking yesterday in the Dail.

On Thursday, the second stage debate on the Civil Partnership Bill picked up where it left off on December 3rd. The Adoption Bill was debated (see our guest post from Brid Nic Suibhne here) on the same day. 

You can read the liveblog of the Civil Partnership Bill debate, including my contributions to it here. We blogged the beginning of the second stage here

For reasons of space, there will be 2 posts about yesterday’s debate. On will focus on some important arguments made about the operation  of the Bill. The second will flag up a line of rhetoric which developed in the course of the debate about the proper place of religion in the republic.

Read more…

Reform of the One Parent Family Allowance?

December 30, 2009 8 comments

The front page of this morning’s Irish Times carries this story reporting the Minister for Social Welfare Mary Hanafin’s (left) view that some reform of the one parent family allowance may be required. In the Minister’s view “The idea of continuing to pay somebody until their child is 22 if they’re in full-time education, it just mitigates against that lone parent herself having a stable relationship or marrying or even taking a full-time job, because of the attachment to ‘the book’”. The article reports that the Minister is considering discussing a situation where one parent family allowance would cease around the time that a child went to secondary school and that she seeks a ‘social policy’, rather than economic, discussion around this welfare allowance. It should be noted, first of all, that changes along these lines were proposed in the Government Discussion Paper: Proposals for Supporting Lone Parents (2006) and are therefore not new. In addition, the discussion is prompted by an awareness that lone parents are reportedly four times more likely to live in poverty and a desire to try to improve state-based supports for lone parent families.

Originally lone parents were supported through the poor law and such support was, in fact, reflective of a very punitive and moralistic approach to single parents (and single mothers in particular). Lone fathers were not originally entitled to any lone parent support from the state; a situation that was upheld by the Supreme Court in Lowth v Minister for Social Welfare [1998] 3 IR 321 on the basis of ‘social function’.

Part III of the Social Welfare Act 1990 introduced a means tested, non-gender-specific lone parent’s allowance payable to those with at least one qualifying child. Part V of the Social Welfare Act 1996 then introduced the one parent family payment to replace the lone parent’s allowance, deserted wife’s benefit and deserted wife’s allowance. This gender neutral, means tested payment is intended to support those who are bringing up a child without the support of a partner and without access to income from other sources. Qualifying children are children up to the age of 18 or, when in full-time education, up the age of 22 where the recipient is the main carer of the child. Rather controversially, qualification for the one parent family allowance is dependent on one complying with the “non-cohabitation” rule, i.e. a rule that prohibits the payment of OPF allowance to anyone who resides with another adult “as husband and wife” regardless of whether the other cohabiting adult in fact parents or supports the child to any extent. Read more…

Guest Post: Nic Suibhne on the Adoption Bill 2009

December 22, 2009 1 comment

We are delighted to welcome this guest post from Brid Nic Suibhne on the Adoption Bill 2009. Brid is a researcher at the Law Reform Commission but this post is contributed in a personal capacity.

Adoption legislation in Ireland has been referred to an “incomprehensible jigsaw” encompassing seven pieces of legislation.[1] In 2003 the government announced a review of adoption law, to take account of the social and economic changes which had occurred since the principal act of 1952. Following an open consultation, the Adoption Bill was published in January 2009 and is moving through the various stages of the legislative process.[2] This recent attempt to clarify the law, by incorporating the previous adoption acts into one piece of legislation is much welcomed[3].

In relation to both domestic and intercountry adoption, section 19 of the Bill states that in any matter, application or proceeding before the Adoption Authority or any court, the welfare of the child is regarded as the first and paramount consideration. It is imperative that the child is at the centre of the adoption process and the emphasis is on providing a child with a suitable family, rather than providing a family with a child.

Read more…

Special Edition of Irish Educational Studies

December 2, 2009 Leave a comment