Welcoming the launch of the website of the new Child Care Law Reporting Project, www.childlawproject.ie today (Thursday), Fine Gael Wicklow Deputy, Simon Harris, said the project will lead to a revealing insight into how child and family law is administered through the courts for the first time ever.
“Operating under regulations that were signed by the Minister for Children, Frances Fitzgerald TD, in November last year, a number of researchers have been given access to what were previously in-camera court proceedings; primarily in the District Court but also in the Circuit and the High Court.
“The launch today of the project’s website will see the first 30 anonymised reports of the cases that have been monitored and reviewed, giving us a narrative and commentary and ultimately an insight into the workings of family law. An interim report is expected sometime later this year which will offer conclusions and further discussion on the cases under consideration.
“Until now the level of transparency surrounding the operation of the family courts, owing to the in-camera rule, has been non-existent with the general public having little or no idea about what exactly goes on or how the courts are treating our younger people. This move by Minister Fitzgerald and the Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter TD, who is focused on radically reforming the Family Court structure, will shine a light on everyday cases, giving us a realistic view of child protection and welfare services through the courts.
“This move also represents a significant response to the key recommendations of the independent Child Death Review Group, which clearly stated the need to change the in-camera rule. I am delighted that we have taken a firm step in that direction and acknowledge the fact that this is only happening with the active support of Minister Fitzgerald and her department.
“This is tangible proof of the Government’s radical reform agenda on child protection which is extremely ambitious. For the first time ever we have had children’s rights enshrined explicitly in our Constitution and Minister Shatter has signalled his intention to hold a referendum in the future to establish new Family Courts. Our children are our most precious resource. Ensuring their fair treatment in every aspect of life is a key priority of this Government. The removal of the in-camera rule and the work of the Child Care Law Reporting Project are instrumental in realising that goal.”