Alienated Children First welcome the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child request to Ireland to ensure that children’s rights and best interests are central to Family Law proceedings and to ensure the true “voice of the child” is listened to:
“Please inform the Committee about the measures taken to ….. Ensure the right of the child to be heard in relevant legal and administrative proceedings, in particular family law proceedings and individual cases, including by amending relevant legislation and establishing procedures for social workers and courts to comply with this principle”.List of issues prior to submission of the combined fifth and sixth reports of Ireland – CRC/C/IRL/QPR/5-6
Alienated Children First (formerly Alienated Person Support) submitted to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child in June 2020 based on its experiences supporting adult and child victims of Parental Alienation in Ireland.
The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child document “List of issues prior to submission of the combined fifth and sixth reports of Ireland – CRC/C/IRL/QPR/5-6” document can be viewed below.
ACF particularly note that Section 4(c) requests that Ireland report on the administration procedures, policies and decision making processes to implement legislation enacted in this area. ACF have reported the frustration that court orders on custody and access are routinely treated with contempt and that such breaches are not addressed in court despite the introduction of Enforcement Orders in Section 60 of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 and that in the absence of court enforcement, Gardai, Tusla and other child services appear powerless or reluctant to get involved in cases that have been reported as Parental Alienation by Judge Larkin in Ennis Family Law Court in March and April 2020 (see below for reporting).
In the absence of the courts engaging with Section 60 (which amends Section 12 of the Guardianship of Infants Act 1964) child victims of Parental Alienation are not usually reported to Tusla by Gardai and other child services as required by the Child First Act 2015 and on the rare occasions when they are Tusla do not engage.
Ireland’s progress in enacting such legislation is welcomed in light of the amendment of the Constitution to insert Article 42A – Children which elevates children’s rights and the best interests of the child to the appropriate level in Irish Law. But ACF highlight the continuing use of “children as pawns” in the “winner takes all” adversarial nature of Irish Family Law and how this has failed to adapt to the legislation as the growing number of cases of child and adult victims of Parental Alienation demonstrates.
ACF welcome the opportunity to engage with the UNCRC Reporting process and the Irish Government response to ensure a better outcome for Irish children and families.
ACF also welcome the UNCRC request for costs of Family Law to be addressed as families and victims of Parental Alienation frequent suffer excessive costs associated with high conflict cases and existing procedures can enable perpetrators and be a considerable barrier to access to justice for victims.
Andrew Doyle – Governance ACF – November 2020
Reporting on Parental Alienation in Irish Law