BA Early Childhood Studies & Practice The Child and Family in Irish Law The Child and Family in Irish Law
31st January 2012
Discuss some of the key provisions and principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the child. Include an example of Irish law or police that complies /does not comply with the States obligations under the convention.
This essay will look at some of the key provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and discuss Ireland’s progress in fulfilling their obligation under the UNCRC. The author will reflect briefly on the history of children’s rights in Ireland. The essay will consider what measures the state has taken to develop strategies and policies to improve the wellbeing of the children. Recent government initiatives will be explored will be explored to assess whether the UN Convention has been implemented into National Policy. The author will also consider the legal framework to gauge if Irish legislation as it stands today complies with the states obligations under the convention. Historical Perspective
Attitudes towards children and their rights have changed dramatically in recent years; these changes have been slow to come about. Historically children were deemed the property of their parents and had no rights. In the late 1800’s, events abroad began to have an impact on attitudes if Ireland. The 1908 children’s act Britain and Ireland remained the main piece of legislation safeguarding children’s rights for almost one hundred years until the Irish Child Care Act 1991. The United Nations was set up in 1945 after the Second World War to promote peace and human rights. In 1989, it was decided that children needed a separate set of rights to ensure that children worldwide were nurtured, protected and allowed to enjoy childhood. In 1990, Ireland signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and ratified it in September 1992 thereby committing the state to implementing the UNCRC. The UNCRC is based on four core principles, the best interest of the child, the right to life survival and development, respect for the views of the child and non-discrimination. Article 3.1 of UNCRC states ‘In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies the best interest of the child shall be a primary consideration’. Legislation
The Child Care Act 1991 is the legislative framework in Ireland for promoting the welfare of the child. This legislation deals primarily with the protection of children in emergencies, or in care. The Childcare Act 1991 Part II, places a statutory onus the HSE to promote the welfare of children in need of care and protection. The 1991 Act also gave the HSE more power to provide childcare and family support services and while doing so must have regard to the following: ‘It is generally in the best interest of the child to be brought up in his or her own family. Having regard to the rights and duties of the parents, the welfare of the child is the first and paramount consideration and that as far as is practicable, the wishes of the child should be considered” (Childcare Act 1991). Part II of The childcare act implements the principle of the best interest of the child in law. The wording in part II of the childcare act would also appear to comply with Article 5 of the UNCRC requiring that ‘Governments respect the right of parents of provide for and care for their children’. Under the Irish Constitution, which is the fundamental law of the land, the family is based on the institution of marriage; only married parents have automatic rights to guardianship of their children. The rights of unmarried parents, in particular fathers are not considered under Irish law, consequently the rights of their...
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