Chief Justice launches new Children’s Rights Alliance Access to Justice Initiative
The Children’s Rights Alliance is delighted to have the support of the Hon. Mr. Justice Frank Clarke, Chief Justice, in launching our new Access to Justice Initiative for children and their families. The launch will be chaired by Prof. Geoffrey Shannon, Founding Patron of the Children’s Rights Alliance and Special Rapporteur on Child Protection.
The Access to Justice initiative aims to make children and families aware of their rights through easily-accessible, free legal information and advice on what legal remedies are available when their rights are breached. The initiative set up a dedicated legal information line for children, young people, their families or people who are working with them to provide them with the information they need, in a way that they can understand.
Access to justice for children primarily relates to the court system and quasi-judicial legal remedies, but this should be supported by ensuring that children, young people, parents, members of the public and organisations working with the legal system are informed about children’s legal rights and entitlements.
Speaking in advance of the launch of the initiative, Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance says: “Children have many rights under Irish law but despite this, many continue to be discriminated against or may find their rights are not being respected. We have heard from children and parents who are contacting us in situations where they feel that the voice of the child has not been heard in guardianship, custody and access cases.
Another common theme is around education, where for example there’s a dispute with the school where a child has complained to the school about being bullied and the school has not investigated. We’ve also got calls from parents who have children with disabilities and are encountering difficulties accessing services and getting assessments.
We want to make sure that children, young people and families that need it have access to free legal advice, be that over the phone or through our free legal advice clinics. We want to make this available to any child regardless of their status, situation or location around the country.”
The launch marks the expansion of the Children’s Rights Alliance’s Access to Justice Initiative, which has commissioned Community Law & Mediation to offer free legal advice outreach clinics that will rollout nationwide.
Rose Wall, Chief Executive of Community Law & Mediation, says: “We are delighted to be a part of this Access to Justice Initiative with the Children’s Rights Alliance. Over the last 40 years, Community Law & Mediation have been committed to empowering the community through the provision of free legal information, advice and representation. Unfortunately, significant difficulties remain for a large section of the population in accessing the courts or legal advice due to the limits of our legal aid scheme."
The Access to Justice Initiative’s core priority is the child’s rights, including their right to be heard. The legal advice clinics will encompass general clinics and specialist clinics providing one-to-one advice for those who need it. Legal queries facing certain groups of children such as those with disabilities or children in care will be dealt with through these specialist clinics.
Notes to Editor:
The Access to Justice Launch takes place today in the Four Courts.
The following are available for interview:
• Tanya Ward, Chief Executive, Children’s Rights Alliance.
• Prof. Geoffrey Shannon, Founding Patron of the Children’s Rights Alliance and Special Rapporteur on Child Protection.
Twitter: You can follow the launch at the following hashtag #AccesstoJustice
About the Children’s Rights Alliance
Founded in 1995, the Children’s Rights Alliance unites over 100 members working together to make Ireland one of the best places in the world to be a child. More information about the Access to Justice Initiative and details of the legal advice clinics can be found at: www.childrensrights.ie.