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‘Cruel law’ Justice Minister vows to bring proposals to Cabinet overturning legal ban on identifying child murder victims

Justice Minister Helen McEntee makes promise to families of slain children

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Justice Minister Helen McEntee

Justice Minister Helen McEntee

Justice Minister Helen McEntee

Justice Minister Helen McEntee last night vowed she will bring proposals to Cabinet within a matter of weeks to overturn a legal ban that prevents the identification of children who have died as a result of a criminal offence.

She made the promise as a number of families of slain children, speaking with the Sunday World, called on the Government to address the 'cruel' law.

Issues surrounding the legal ban have come to prominence again this week following the stabbing to death of a teenage boy in Dublin. His identity can no longer be reported as legal proceedings commenced against his alleged killer yesterday.

The ban on identifying deceased child victims of crime came into force in October of last year after the Court of Criminal Appeal ruled Section 252 of the Children's Act applies even after a child is dead.

The section states: "in relation to any proceedings for an offence against a child or where a child is a witness in any such proceedings .... no report which reveals the name, address or school of the child or includes any particulars likely to lead to his or her identification" shall be published or included in a broadcast.

Previously, the restrictions imposed by the Act were not considered to apply in instances where a child is deceased. Minister McEntee yesterday told us: "We have already seen the huge negative impact this has had on so many people, including parents who want to remember their children, and victims who can no longer say who they are.

"We will change this and I will bring proposals to Cabinet within weeks on how to do so.

"I am determined to act as quickly as possible.

"That's why it is important that we work together across parties to make sure we resolve this issue as soon as we can. I have met with Senator Michael McDowell and Deputy Jim O'Callaghan on how we can best achieve this, while also ensuring any changes do not result in unintended consequences and are consistent with the key principle of the best interests of the child."

Among the loved ones of slain children who yesterday called for the ban to be lifted is the father of three children killed in violent circumstances last year.

The father renewed his call for an 'urgent' review after previously issuing a statement to the Sunday World describing the cruel effect of the ban on his efforts to keep the memories of his children alive.

Promises

In the statement, he told us: "(My children) have names and I need to be able to shout their names from the rooftops," he said.

"I need to talk about (my children) and celebrate their all-too-short lives. I'm only seeking that child victims be named so as to help us heal. Part of that healing is the promises I made to (my children)."

The father said one of his children "wanted me to help him with a YouTube channel so the channel is now there". He said another "wanted a snowman so I'm seeking to run an annual snowman colouring competition in her name."

And he said: "Finally, I promised (named child), I would volunteer with (his football club). I'm setting up a charity in (his) name which will support small clubs and societies. I could not do this without media support and if we could not name (my children).

"I never expect to heal but keeping these promises and celebrating them makes me a whole lot less sad."

Similarly yesterday, the mother of a toddler, who was slain in Cork, called for the law to be changed to allow her daughter be named

"This is a cruel law," she told the Sunday World.

"I have four other beautiful children who are growing up. I want their sister's memory to be public for them. Not being allowed to name her is not right; the law needs to be changed."


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