Journal Article

Giving a voice to the child - the Irish experience

G Shannon

in International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family

Volume 14, issue 2, pages 131-147
Published in print August 2000 | ISSN: 1360-9939
Published online August 2000 | e-ISSN: 1464-3707 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/lawfam/14.2.131
Giving a voice to the child - the Irish experience

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In Article 41 of the 1937 Constitution, the people of Ireland recognized the family as 'the natural primary and fundamental unit group of Society', 'the necessary basis for social order', and as 'indispensable to the welfare of the Nation and the State'. The preferential legal weighting accorded by Article 41 of the Irish Constitution to the rights of parents and the integrity of the family unit founded upon marriage confirms a philosophy of laissez-faire in respect of parent/child relations, where the parents have sovereign dominion over the future of their children. The Irish child care system is unique in that it has resisted the steady erosion of parental rights which has characterized the international child care system. By ratifying the 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child on 21 September 1992, without reservation, Ireland accepted its international obligations towards children. Substantial changes have been brought about by the Irish legislature in what appears to be a pro-active approach at the statutory level on child law matters and an attempt by the State to fulfil its international obligations by recognizing children's fundamental, political, social, economic and civil rights. Article 41 of the Irish Constitution, however, continues to act as an impediment to the effective implementation of children's legal entitlements under the 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. This paper analyses recent Irish family legislation and examines the extent to which it fails to comply with the Irish Government's international obligations towards children.

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Subjects: Family Law ; Marriage and the Family

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