Tuesday, 28 July 2020
Department of Justice and Equality
The Deputy will appreciate that I cannot comment on an individual case. Parental alienation has been described as a situation when a child’s resistance or hostility towards one parent is not justified and is the result of psychological manipulation by the other parent. The issue of parental alienation is highly complex and I am aware that some professionals advocate for the classification of parental alienation as a clinical disorder affecting children, while others raise concerns that taking this action could act as a means of masking other serious issues such as genuine allegations of child abuse. The phenomenon most commonly occurs in the course of family break-up or divorce.
While there is no specific legislative provision regarding parental alienation in Irish family law, section 246 of the Children Act 2001 provides for an offence of frightening, bullying or threatening a child in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to the child's physical, mental or emotional health or wellbeing. There is also a range of legislative provisions in place for dealing with child welfare particularly regarding the relationship between a child and his/her parents or guardians, providing the framework for a legal response to a wide spectrum of child welfare issues.
I am also aware that the Report of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice and Equality on Reform of the Family Law System, which was published late last year, considered the issue of parental alienation among a broad range of issues in the area of family law. All of the recommendations in the report are currently being examined by my Department.