Senator Michael McDowell has published the text of a Bill to permit the identification of persons accused and convicted of homicide offences against children. He will move it as soon as the Oireachtas re-convenes.
“ The Bill amends section 252 of the Children Act 2001 which was the subject of a Court of Appeal decision last week. The Court said that amending the law was a matter for the Oireachtas.” he said. “The Bill makes it clear that persons accused of homicide offences against children cannot hide behind the child’s privacy rights to conceal their own identity.”
The Bill also allows a court to allow identification of the accused or convicted person where the public interest justifies doing that in respect of other non-fatal offences.
“Protecting child victims may sometimes require anonymity for the perpetrator in other serious offences such as FGM, sexual assault, serious non-fatal injury and incest cases” he said. “But in those cases there is clearly a balancing act required between protecting the public and protecting the victim. The Bill allows the public interest to be taken into account in non-fatal cases”.
“I expect the Government to accept the Bill and to enact it as a matter of urgency. Section 3 of the Bill will make the amendment retrospective to court proceedings for child homicide offences dealt with before the Bill is enacted.”
CHILDREN BILL 2020
An Act to amend the Children Act 2001 to permit the publication and broadcasting of reports and images identifying or likely to identify persons accused or convicted in proceedings for certain offences against children and to provide for related matters.
Amendment of the Children Act 2001
“Anonymity of child in court proceedings
252. (1) Subject to the provisions of this section, in relation to any proceedings for an offence against a child or where a child is a witness in such proceedings –
(a) no report which reveals the name, address or school of the child or includes any particulars likely to lead to his or her identification,
(b) no picture or image which purports to be or to include a picture or image of the child or which is likely to lead to his or her identification,
shall be published or included in a broadcast.
(2) Subsection (1) does not apply to publication or broadcasting of reports, pictures or images identifying a person accused or convicted in proceedings for an offence of murder, attempted murder or manslaughter against a child.
(3) The court may, to any specified extent and subject to such conditions as it may stipulate, dispense with the requirements of subsection (1) in any case if it is satisfied that it is appropriate to do so having regard to the interests of the child and to the public interest including the protection of children generally.
(4) Where the court dispenses with the requirements of subsection (1), the court shall explain in open court why it is satisfied it should do so.
(5) Subsections (3) to (6) of section 51 shall apply, with necessary modifications, for the purposes of this section.
(6) Nothing in this section shall affect the law as to contempt of court.”
Application of the Children Act 2001 as amended by this Act