Written answers

Thursday, 25 April 2024

Department of Justice and Equality

Family Law Cases

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

256. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if she will introduce the necessary changes to Irish family law to prevent the use of parental alienation pursuant to the appropriate provisions of family and child law; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18692/24]

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

257. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality her proposed timescale for the introduction of legislation to discontinue the use of parental alienation in Irish family law; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18693/24]

Photo of Helen McEnteeHelen McEntee (Meath East, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

I propose to take Questions Nos. 256 and 257 together.

As the Deputy is aware, my Department is leading an ambitious programme of family justice reform set out in the first Family Justice Strategy, which I published in November 2022.

The Strategy sets out a vision for a family justice system of the future - a system that will focus on the needs and rights of children and which will assist their parents in making decisions that affect all of the family.

The Plan outlines the steps needed to create a more efficient and user-friendly family court system that puts the family and children at the centre of its work. This will be achieved through the implementation of over 50 actions across nine goals, with timelines for delivery up to the end of 2025.

As the strategy was developed, my Department listened to and acknowledged the many issues and concerns about how the current system operates. The actions stress the centrality of children to many family justice matters, and the need to ensure their best interests are considered in conjunction with their constitutional rights.

My Department committed to undertake both a public consultation and independent research on the topic of parental alienation. The findings of both were analysed, and arising from this, department officials developed a policy paper on how to address the issue.

Both the paper and the report recognise that parental alienation is a highly contested and divisive concept. While there is little concrete information on the exact extent of accusations of parental alienation within the Irish courts, the research report found that, similar to other courts internationally, there appear to be increasing claims of parental alienation in family law proceedings. It appears to arise particularly in custody and access disputes and in cases where allegations of domestic, sexual and gender-based violence feature.

Despite the highly contested nature of the concept, there was consensus in the public consultation that the means to address parental alienation lie in improvements to the Irish family courts and family justice system.

Reflecting this, the policy paper puts forward six recommendations to address the issue of parental alienation, which are also linked to actions within the Family Justice Strategy. One of the recommendations in the paper is to conduct a review of expert reports in the family law process.

My Department has conducted this Review and I expect to bring the recommendations arising from it to Cabinet in the coming weeks. I will then publish the Review.


Paul Anderson
Posted on 28 Apr 2024 11:39 am (Report this comment)

Imagine on International Parental Alienation awareness day that you are a heartbroken non abusive and loving Alienated Mother Father or Grandparent who has unjustifiably been obstructed from seeing your child and you hear or see this atrocious possibly abusive question that implies and gaslight that your trauma and your child's trauma is make believe and should not be assessed by a qualified expert and overseen by a Judge?
Thank God that
1. Minister of Justice Helen McEnteer speaks plain common sense and that the six recommendations to address what TD Bernard Durkan espouses as makey up will be implemented plus the others related to it in the Family Justice Strategy.
2. That Parental Alienation is not only part of Irish Government Policy but recognised in Irish Jurisprudence and is necessary to be assessed in situations like when child access court orders are breached that happens far too much in the in camera unpublicised family law courts.
3. Last word goes to Baroness Meyer in the House of Lords who has experienced unlike Durkan - Parental Alienation - "The truth is that children are not necessarily best placed to speak about what is in their best interests. Some will not be able to express their own views, either because they have been coerced, or because they feel guilty, or because they are scared of the consequences of speaking out, while others will be so indoctrinated that they may genuinely believe that they were, for example, sexually abused. While I warmly welcome the Government’s commitment to safeguarding the well-being of children caught in the crossfire of parental discord, I want to put it on the record that parental alienation—the coercive control of children by one parent against the other—does exist. I have raised this in the House several times, and I am not alone in doing so.

Children are vulnerable and can easily be used as weapons, whether by a mother or by a father. Some do so subconsciously, but others do so for their own interest, while it is actually and ultimately the child who pays the price.

I know what I am talking about; I have lived through this experience. Through the charity I have run, I have seen many cases and the long-term consequences on children who have been affected. So please listen to what I have to say, not only to others who think they know best but who feel that it is a vendetta of men versus women. This is about children.

Link to this speech
In context Individually
Tweet Share
(Citation: HL Deb, 22 April 2024, c1348) https://www.theyworkforyou.com/lords/?id=2024-04-22b.1343.1&...

Log in or join to post a public comment.