Tuesday, 26 February 2019
Department of Justice and Equality
243. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to introduce a rights of grandparents Bill similar to the 2013 proposed legislation which did not proceed through the Houses of the Oireachtas to deal with issues in relation access to children for grandparents; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9064/19]
The Rights of Grandparents Bill 2013 did not proceed through the Oireachtas. I have no plans to introduce a similar Bill, as the issues regarding access to children by grandparents, which the Rights of Grandparents Bill 2013 attempted to deal with, were subsequently addressed by the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015.
The Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 is a child–centred Act which addresses the rights of children to legal security, to the care of their parents and important adults in their lives, and to equality before the law. These reforms in family law recognise the crucial role of parents and other relatives, including grandparents, in a child's life.
The 2015 Act extensively amended the Guardianship of Infants Act 1964 in relation to guardianship, custody and access. A grandparent or other relative may apply to court for custody of a child where he or she is an adult who has undertaken the child’s day to day care for more than 12 months and the child has no parent or guardian willing or able to act as guardian. The 2015 Act has also made it easier for relatives of a child, such as grandparents, to apply to court under section 11B of the 1964 Act to have access to children.
Section 25 of the Guardianship of Infants Act 1964 requires the court, as it thinks appropriate and practicable, to take into account the child's wishes in custody and access matters, having regard to the age and understanding of the child.
Section 3 of the Guardianship of Infants Act 1964 provides that the best interests of the child shall be the paramount consideration for the court to take into account in any proceedings where access to a child is in question. It is a matter for the courts, when making decisions on access, to determine the best interests of the child and to decide whether or not to make an order regarding access to the child.