Thursday, 1 April 2021
Children (Amendment) Bill 2020 [Seanad]: Committee and Remaining Stages
I thank the Minister and commend her for taking on board the concerns I expressed in the debate on Second Stage on 11 March. She also communicated with Senator McDowell in the Upper House. I also want to commend the Attorney General. The amendments make it far clearer to a court the intention of the Oireachtas when it comes to the amendment to section 252.
I welcome the first two amendments, which specify that the child being referred to in the relevant subparagraph is a child that is alive. The inclusion of a new section 2 is much clearer and ensures that the court has discretion. The concern I expressed on a previous occasion was that subsection 1A and the new section 2A would mean a court would have no discretion if it was the case that identifying a deceased child would result in the identification of a child witness or a child accused, notwithstanding the provisions contained in section 93 of the Act. The wording that is there now gives the court discretion in respect of a deceased child and the ability to name the child in circumstances where there may be another child witness who could be identified as a result of that.
I also welcome the fact that it creates and provides for discretion for the court in circumstances where the child victim is not deceased and the child is, in fact, alive but still the victim of a criminal offence. That discretionary provision is set out in the second part of subsection 2.
I thank the Minister for what she has done. It improves the Bill. I want to commend her on moving it quickly. Legislation can take time to change. This is a complicated Bill and the collective efforts of people in this House and the other House have ensured that we have resolved a problem and put forward a piece of proposed legislation that is much clearer and which, it is to be hoped, the courts will see as much clearer.