By James Ward, PA
A court judgment that prevented child murder victims from being named publicly will be reversed after a new bill was passed.
The Children (Amendment) Bill 2020 will be sent to President Michael D Higgins to be signed after passing through the Dáil and the Seanad, and is expected to come into force in early May.
Parents of child murder victims and media organisations had campaigned to change the law after the controversial ruling at the Court of Appeal last October.
Justice Minister Helen McEntee said: “I am conscious of the deep hurt felt by families around the restrictions on reporting the identities of deceased children who have been the victims of criminal acts.
“I appreciate the cooperation of members of both Houses in progressing the Children (Amendment) Bill 2020 which has now been approved by the Seanad and the Dáil, and will be forwarded to the President for signature.
“This legislation will remove the restrictions on reporting the identities of deceased children with respect to past and future cases, while retaining the protection for living children.”
So glad the Children’s (Amendment) Bill has now passed all stages in the Dáil and Seanad. We made a commitment to parents who want to publicly remember their children that we’d change the law to allow them to do so, and that change will take effect from May 3rd at the latest. pic.twitter.com/ZnXTjKUJxP
— Helen McEntee TD (@HMcEntee) April 19, 2021
The new legislation will remove the restrictions on reporting the identities of deceased children with respect to past and future cases, while retaining the protection for living children.
A landmark decision by the Court of Appeal in October last year ruled that provisions within the 2001 Children Act that prevent the identification of a child when someone is charged with an offence against them do not exclude children who are deceased.
It also introduced restrictions on naming those charged with the offence, if it could identify the victim.
The ruling marked a significant departure from established media reporting practices in the state.
Parents of child victims who were prevented from naming their child publicly had appealed to the Justice Minister to intervene.
The bill, proposed by independent Senator Michael McDowell, was brought to Cabinet by Minister McEntee in February.