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Treoir E-Bulletin   -  2015/2016

Treoir regular Bulletin has brief information on items of interest to unmarried families, unmarried parents and those working with unmarried families. This includes recent legislation changes in social welfare, up-coming conferences/workshops, new books, websites etc.

 

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TREOIR Bulletin:  September 2016

 

TREOIR Celebrates 40 years!!

baloon 

A date for your diary:  Wednesday, 7th December 2016

                           Time:  11:00 - 13:00

                         Venue:  To be decided

  

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TREOIR’S Information Pack for unmarried parents has been updated with new legislation and more!

This Pack contains information on legal issues relevant to all unmarried parents, i.e. living together or apart.  The legal issues include information on: guardianship, access, maintenance, establishing paternity, the rights of cohabiting parents and more.  The Pack also contains information on social welfare entitlements and other financial matters. 
pack 2016To request a copy of the Pack e-mail us at info@treoir.ie, or contact us on 01-6700120 / LoCall 1890 252 084, or download Pack.

 

 

TREOIR’s Pre-Budget Submission 2017:  Supporting Financially Vulnerable Families

In July 2016, Treoir made it’s submission to the Department of Social Protection.  Among the recommendations made in the submission were the following:  

  • Reinstate the supports for one-parent families in order to address the current high rates of child poverty.
  • Extend FIS to lone parents in receipt of Jobseekers Transitional Payment subject to certain criteria.
  • Review working hours eligibility of FIS to align it with current trends on part-time working arrangements.
  • Introduce additional interim measures for lone parents in part-time employment who cannot increase their hours to avail of FIS.
  • Allow for flexibility in the payment of FIS in the event of changes of income or working hours for short periods.
  • Apply the same Income Limits for the Back to School and Footwear Allowance to lone parents or couples (similar to FIS).
  • Extend the eligibility of the Widowed or Surviving Civil Partner Grant to cohabitants and to other surviving guardian who have one or more dependent children living with them 
  • Introduce a single childcare subvention scheme for single parents who need childcare for children aged up to 12 years in order to participate in education, training and work.

 Read Treoir’s Pre-Budget Submission 2017

 

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The Teen Parents Support Programme (TPSP):  Pre-Budget Submission 2017

The Teen Parents Support Programme (TPSP) consists of eleven separate projects funded by TUSLA and the HSE and located throughout the country in a range of statutory, community and voluntary organisations. The TPSP engages with young people who become parents when they are under 20 years of age and supports them to build their capacity as parents as well as completing their own development as adolescents moving towards early adulthood. Support is offered in all areas of the young person’s life – parenting, health, relationships, education, training, childcare, accommodation, social welfare entitlements, legal issues and anything else about which the young person is concerned.

The National Co-ordinator of the Teen Parents Support Programme (TPSP) is based in Treoir.

See TPSP’s Pre-Budget Submission 2017.

 

  

The Paternity Leave and Benefit Bill 2016

As of September 1st 2016, fathers are entitled to two weeks of statutory paternity leave and two weeks of State paternity benefit of €230 per week (subject to the individual having made sufficient PRSI contributions prior to commencing the leave) to be taken at any time within the first six months following the birth of their child. The benefit will be available to both employed and self-employed fathers. It will also apply in the same way to fathers of newly-adopted children and to same-sex couples on an equal basis with other couples.  Fathers need a Public Services Card to apply for paternity benefit.
See here for further information.

 

 

The Department of Education and Skills, announces their Home Tuition Scheme 2016/2017

The Department of Education and Skills operates three different categories of Home Tuition for the 2016/2017 school year.  One of which is the ‘Home Tuition for Students on Maternity Related Absences’.  The purpose of this scheme is to provide home tuition to students who are enrolled in a recognised school at post primary level studying at junior or senior cycle and whose education may be disrupted due to pregnancy.

For further information see Circular 0051/2016 - Home Tuition Grant Scheme 2016 /2017 - Maternity Related Absences Component for information on this scheme and details of criteria for eligibility citeria.  Download application form.

 

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CSO:  Vital Statistics and Yearly Summary 2015

Of the 65,909 births registered in 2015, there were 23,990 births registered as outside marriage/civil partnership accounting for 36.4% of all births, an increase of 0.1 percentage points from 2014.  The highest percentage of births outside marriage/civil partnership was in Limerick City at 55.7% and the lowest was in Dun Laoghaire Rathdown with 24.0%. 

The average age of first time mothers in 2015 was 30.7 years. The average age of mothers at maternity for all births registered in 2015 was 32.5 years. The average age of first time mothers outside marriage/civil partnership was 28.1, while the average age of all mothers outside marriage/civil partnership was 29.6 years. A total of 1,187 teenagers had babies in 2015, of these 42 were aged under 16. 

 

 

Clann project launched – June 2016

Justice for Magdalenes Research (JFMR) and Adoption Rights Alliance (ARA) have launched a project in association with global law firm Hogan Lovells. The project, which will be known as Clann: Ireland’s Unmarried Mothers and their Children: Gathering the Data (Clann),will provide free witness statement drafting assistance to enable individuals to make a comprehensive statement to the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes.  It is intended that Clann will act as a parallel process to the Commission of Investigation, collating information regarding any of the 170+ institutions, organisations, agencies and individuals which were involved with unmarried mothers and their children in 20th century Ireland. The witness statement gathering process forms part of a larger project to create a permanent archive of the experiences of Ireland’s unmarried mothers and their children via the Clann website.  The Clann website will act as a resource for individuals affected by the issues and will be available to the wider public for ongoing education and research.

 

 

Decline in the numbers travelling to terminate a pregnancy since 2001 

The number of women travelling from the Republic to Britain for an abortion has fallen to the lowest level since 1980, official figures have revealed.UK records show 3,451 women gave an address in the Republic when attending clinics in England and Wales in 2015.  This represented a slight fall on the previous year and a 48% decline in the numbers travelling to terminate a pregnancy since a peak of 6,673 was reached in 2001.  The HSE Crisis Pregnancy Agency welcomed the drop in numbers but said unplanned pregnancy and abortion were still a reality for women in Ireland.

 

Chart 1:  Number of women travelling for abortions 2000 – 2014

 
Source:  UK Dept. of Health

 

Chart 2:  The number of abortions by age 2015

 
Source:  UK Dept. of Health

 

Chart 3:  The number of abortions by marital status 2015

 
Source:  UK Dept. of Health


The Irish Family Planning Association said the data did not give a true picture of Irish women accessing abortion because increasing numbers are using pills obtained online to terminate their pregnancies.

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Abortion Aftercare helpline launched

A free aftercare helpline for women in Ireland who have taken abortion medication they bought online has been launched by a British family planning service. The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (Bpas) is extending its helpline to women in Ireland who have bought pills online from two not-for-profit organisations.  “The confidential nurse-led telephone service will offer advice to women who have obtained pills from the online not-for-profit clinics run by Women Help Women (WHW) and Women on Web (WOW) and who are concerned about any symptoms or simply want to speak to someone,” Bpas said.

The helpline number is: 1800-910049

  

 

UN ruling on abortion laws

In July 2014, the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Committee conducted its fourth periodic review of Ireland.  The Human Rights Committee is a body of eighteen human rights experts that monitors state parties’ compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Members are elected by state parties.

The following were among the Committee’s observations: 

      ‘Violence against women’

       The (Irish) State should:

  • take further legislative as well as policy measures to ensure that all women, particularly women from vulnerable and marginalised groups, have equal access to protection against perpetrators of violence. It should also establish a systematic data collection system to inform current and future policies and priorities, and provide, in its next report, statistics on complaints, prosecutions and sentences regarding violence against women.


     ‘Abortion’

      The (Irish) State should:

  • revise its legislation on abortion, including its Constitution, to provide for additional exceptions in cases of rape, incest, serious risks to the health of the mother, or fatal foetal abnormality;
  • swiftly adopt a guidance document to clarify what constitutes a “real and substantive risk” to the life of the pregnant woman;
  • consider making more information on crisis pregnancy options available through a variety of channels, and ensure that health-care providers who supply information on safe abortion services abroad are not subject to criminal sanctions. 

Read report here.

 

  

Preparing for Life

The results of this early childhood intervention trial programme, which ran from 2008 to 2015, showed a dramatic impact on children’s health and behaviour.   The programme involved 200 families and was run by the Northside Partnership in Coolock, Co. Dublin.  The participating families each received 50 home visits over this period, with mentoring, role modelling and detailed work-sheets being provided.  Some of the findings show that children whose parents received the intervention were less likley to be overweights (23% compared to 41% in the control group) and had fewer behavioural problems (2% compared to 17% in the control group).  The findings of this study were evaluated by the Geary Institute for Public Policy at University College Dublin.  The lead researcher at UCD, Dr. Orla Doyle said that “the results show that developing the skills and knowledge of parents is a particularly effective and impactful approach to changing and improving outcomes for children.”  Noel Kelly, the study’s manager, has called for this programme to be rolled out nationwide.

 See summary report.  -  5/2016

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Irish Children’s Services

In June this year the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) published its latest annual overview report on the inspection and regulation of children’s services in 2015.  Ann Ryan, Head of Children’s Programme, HIQA said: “The children’s team conducted 114 inspections of different services in 2015. These included Child Protection and Welfare Services, Foster Care Services, Statutory Residential Care, Special Care Units, Children Detention Schools (Oberstown Campus) and Designated Centres for children with a disability”.  She went on to say: “What is clear from inspection and monitoring activity is the variance of practice by different providers in relation to the quality of service delivered.” 
The Children’s Rights Alliance (CRA), commenting on this report, welcomed the many improvements in children and family services identified but expressed concern about the inconsistency of services for children across the country, as highlighted in the report.  The CRA said that it was very significant that: “the majority of children who spoke to HIQA inspectors are reporting positive experiences of services. They said that they and their families had benefitted from a social work or other type of care intervention. HIQA also pointed to the fact that some children lacked knowledge of their rights, the information being held about them and how to complain about their treatment”.  The CRA said: “The key here for these children is better and more child-friendly information on their rights. But information alone is not enough, children and young people need the support of independent advocates to help them vindicate their rights.”
HIQA’s Annual Overview Report is availablehere

 

 

Courts Service Annual Report 2015

In July 2016, The Chief Justice, Mrs. Justice Susan Denham, presented the Courts Service Annual Report 2015 to the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald T.D.  In her address the Minister referred to plans for a dedicated and integrated Family Law and Children’s Court building in Dublin.  She said:  “I am very conscious of the concerns expressed by the judiciary, legal practitioners and victims groups in relation to the poor state and set-up of many Family Court facilities. The new development will be situated on the Hammond Lane site in Smithfield and will ensure appropriate state-of-the-art facilities where family law cases can be heard.”

The Report states that of particular concern is the increase of 13% in the volume of domestic violence applications in the District Court since 2012.  A support and referral service for women provided by three organisations – Women’s Aid, Dublin 12 Domestic Violence Service and Inchicore Outreach Centre – continued in Dublin District Family Court in 2015.

The mediation initiative which offers mediation as an alternative to court as a more appropriate means of resolving certain family disputes also continued in 2015.  Additional pilot initiatives were introduced, one of which was carried out in Cork and Athlone, whereby litigants applying for legal aid must attend a mandatory information session on mediation before they will be granted representation. The result of this and other such initiatives will inform policy in relation to the more widespread use of mediation and the implementation of any future legislation on mediation.

The following are among the statistics contained in the Courts Service Annual Report 2015:


The District Court received 2,367 guardianship applications by unmarried parents in 2015.   
NOTE:  ‘Not granted’ includes applications which were refused, withdrawn or struck-out.

 

  


There were 5,916 applications for custody and access in the District Court. 
NOTE:  ‘Not granted’ includes applications which were refused, withdrawn or struck-out.

 

 

The District Court received 2,571 maintenance applications by unmarried parents in 2015.  
NOTE:  ‘Not granted’ includes applications which were refused, withdrawn or struck out.

 

There was a 58% increase in new applications to the High Court under the Hague Convention on Child Abduction – 41 compared to 26 in 2014.The waiting time for an action to heard in the Family Law District Courts, i.e. the time from receipt of application to date when application is listed for hearing, ranged from 2 – 20 weeks.

The waiting time for an action to heard in the Family Law District Courts, i.e. the time from receipt of application to date when application is listed for hearing, ranged from 2 – 20 weeks.

 

 

The Quality Time Project:  Supervised Access

Cloyne Diocesan Youth Services (DCYS) has set up a new initiative that hopes to address the needs of children and young people who for a variety of reasons require supervised access to maintain a positive, safe and healthy relationship with their biological parents. They aim to provide a child centered service supporting the child’s emotional well being and sense of identity, by providing:
 

  • the appropriate space to ensure the safety and welfare of children
  • therapeutic parent- child mentoring for clients using the service in order to promote and strengthen family relationships
  • professional monitored supervised access & appropriate contact space.

 It is possible to self-refer for this service, which is available on Fridays and Sundays.  The cost of the service is €45.00 per hour.  For further information, contact:  087-3239775/022-21812 or maria@cdys.ie.

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PATHWAY:  Tenant Information Service

The Tenant Information and Support Service works to support people to remain in their homes and gives people the advice and support that they need in their local community.  The service is provided by Dublin Simon Community on behalf of Dublin City Council.  Information and advice is provided in the following drop-in clinics:

  • Darndale (North Central)
  • Ballyfermot (South Central)
  • Wood Quay (Central)
  • Aungier Street (South East)
  • Finglas (North West)

For further information and details on the drop-in clinics, see here.

 

 

Credit Union loan system

A new Credit Union loans system is being rolled out, aimed at putting pressure on moneylenders. The 'It Makes Sense' scheme gives loans of no more than €2,000 to low-income families.   It allows them to pay the loan back at much lower interest rates than they would get with moneylenders.  Michael Culloty from MABS said he hoped the scheme would put pressure on lenders who are taking advantage of families.  The scheme has been trialled in 30 Credit Unions since last November.   (Irish Examiner 26/7/2016)

 

 

Benefacts.ie


Benefacts.ie, is a website which was launched in May by Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe. This website aims to bring transparency to the finances of more than 18,600 civil society organisations in Ireland.  It carries information on a range of bodies including charities, schools, sports clubs, museums and religious groups.  The Benefacts project has been developed over the course of three years at a cost of €4 million and was funded by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in conjunction with Atlantic Philanthropies and The Ireland Funds, with the State providing half the funding.

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 Treoir celebrates 40 years!

-  watch this space

 

 

TREOIR BULLETIN:   April 2016

 

 

ORDER TREOIR'S NEWLY UPDATED INFORMATION LEAFLETS:

  1. Custody and Access
  2. Guardianship
  3. Maintenance
  4. Establishing Paternity
  5. Passports
  6. Unmarried Fathers
  7. Cohabiting Parents
  8. Child Abduction
  9. Step-Parent Adoption

                         ...from info@treoir.ie

 

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Retirement of Margaret Dromey, CEO of Treoir

 
Senator Jillian van Turnhout and CEO Margaret Dromey


It was a bittersweet occasion in the Treoir office recently when we said goodbye to our CEO, Margaret Dromey, who is retiring after many years of sterling service to Treoir.  Margaret’s career in Treoir spanned almost 40 years, from the early days in the late 1970s when the stigma of unmarried parenthood was huge to the present when so much has been achieved to improve the status of unmarried families in Irish society.

In a tribute to Margaret the Chair, Dr. Ruth Barrington, referred to some of the significant milestones to which Treoir, with Margaret at the helm, contributed including:

  • The Status of Children Act 1987 which abolished the concept of illegitimacy and established the right of all children to be maintained by both parents
  • The Children Act 1997 which made it possible for an unmarried father to become a guardian without going to court and gave grandparents ‘leave to apply’ for permission to have access to their grandchildren
  • Civil Registration and Adoption legislation with particular reference to a child’s right to identity and more recently the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 which introduced very significant rights for unmarried parents and children. In particular it granted automatic rights to unmarried dads who cohabit with the mother of their child for a year and facilitated other unmarried dads to become joint guardians at the point of birth registration, by agreement with the mother.
  • The organization, in conjunction with the Medico-Social Research Board, undertook a national study of unmarried mothers in Ireland “Mothers Alone?” and Treoir was very instrumental in the initiation of the national longitudinal study of children in Ireland “Growing Up in Ireland”.

Describing some of Margaret’s special qualities Ruth said she epitomised the values of Treoir: integrity, respect, empathy, professionalism, flexibility and inclusion.  She spoke of her sense of fairness, her passion and determination and her optimism, which was reflected in her positive outlook, her ‘can do’ attitude and her confidence in the future.

Warm tributes were paid to Margaret by former Chairwoman and honorary life member of Treoir, Gemma Rowley, by her loyal friend and former work colleague of many, many years, Margot Doherty and finally by Brenda Forde, a current long standing member of staff.

In the year that Treoir celebrates its fortieth anniversary, the year when we will be marking its many achievements and when we hope to show how ‘Treoir made a difference’, there is no doubt that Margaret Dromey made an enormous difference to the lives of unmarried parents and she leaves behind a legacy of which she can be justly proud.

 

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Treoir welcomes a new CEO

 

We are delighted to announce the appointment of Mr. Greg Straton as the new CEO of Treoir. Greg joins us from the Spiritan Asylum Services Initiative (SPIRASI ) where he worked for 12 years, 5 as Executive Director.  During that time Greg was a member of the state appointed Working Group to advise on Improvements to the International Protection Process, including Direct Provision.  He has a proven track record in advancing human rights and social justice. 

Greg brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the post and is very well equipped to advance the mission of Treoir, to meet the challenges ahead and to avail of opportunities to benefit the organisation.

The council and staff of Treoir extend a very warm welcome to Greg.

 

Important New Family Legislation

Certain sections of The Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 were commenced on 18th January 2016.  This new legislation will directly affect many of our users.  All the relevant sections of our website have been updated The following are some of the changes that have been commenced:

  • an unmarried father who is cohabiting with the mother of his child for at least one year, 3 months of which are post the birth of the child, will automatically have guardianship rights in respect of his child.  This is not retrospective: only cohabitation after the commencement date (18/1/2016) will be taken into account.  See fathers section
  • step-parents, grandparents and those who have acted in loco parentis may be eligible to apply for guardianship.  See 'guardianship' section
  • the process whereby grandparents can apply for access to their grandchildren has been simplified.  See 'grandparents' section
  • enforcement procedures have been put in place where someone is in breach of a court order.  See 'Access and Custody of Children'
  • a non-parent cohabitant may be obliged to pay maintenance in respect of a child he/she has been caring for.  See 'maintenance' section

Treoir is very disappointed that the section in the Act that gives authority to Birth Registrars to provide and witness Statutory Declartion Forms for Joint Guardianship (S.I. No. 5 1998) has not yet commenced.  Treoir was very effective in influencing the inclusion of this piece of legislation in the Act.  When implemented, not only will unmarried parents be provided with this service but this will ensure that unmarried parents are informed about their legal status at the point of registering the birth of their child.  It is a commonly held belief that where a father has his name on his child’s birth certificate he has automatic legal rights in respect of his child.  This is not so.

Treoir campaigned strongly for the inclusion in the legislation of a Central Register of Guardianship Agreements (S.I. No. 5 of 1998).  Treoir considers it in the best interests of unmarried parents and their children to have these Declarations, which contain evidence of very significant legal rights and responsibilities in relation to children, recorded and was very concerned that it was not addressed in the legislation.  However, the Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald TD in first introducing the legislation to Seanad Eireann said,  “some organisations have also raised the issue of a central register for statutory declarations. To that end, I have announced my intention to develop a pilot project to establish a voluntary repository into which non-marital parents can deposit copies of statutory declarations. The lessons from the pilot project will inform whether or not to proceed with the establishment of a national repository”.  Treoir is determined to ensure that this commitment is met and will continue to press for the initiation of the Central Register when a new government is in place. 

Treoir's information leaflets have been updated with the new legislation and are now available to download from our website (download above).  All Treoir publications can be ordered from info@treoir.ie. 

We await commencement of further sections of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015.  Follow Treoir on Facebook and see our website, www.treoir.ie, for regular updates.


If you are unclear about any matter please contact an information officer on 01-6700120. 

See Treoir’s Press Release 

 
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Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation

A Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes and a representative sample of County Homes has been established.  The Commission would like to hear from anyone who was resident in or who worked in any of the Mother and Baby Homes or County Homes that are the subject of the investigation. 

The Commission would also like to hear from people who have personal knowledge about the homes, for example, family members of residents, regular visitors or those who supplied services to the homes.  Written submissions are welcome and the Confidential Committee will also meet in person with a number of former residents, employees and others with relevant information to hear their experiences.

Confidential Freephone 1800 80-66-88 (from outside of the Republic of Ireland: 00 353 1 6445088).  The opening hours for the confidential phone line are Monday to Friday (excluding Irish Bank Holidays) 10am to 1pm and 2pm to 4.30pm.

Treoir will make a submission in due course.

We would encourage those who have a story to tell or observations to make to contact the Commission, see www.mbhcoi.ie

 

 

CSO Vital Statistics – Quarter 3 2015

There were 17,128 births registered in quarter 3 2015.  Of these 6,258 were registerd as outside marriage/civil partnership accounting for 36.7% of all births in this quarter.  60% of births registerd as outside marriage/civil partnership were registred by parents giving the same address (cohabiting parents).  The highest percentage of births outside marriage/civil partnership was in Limerick City at 55.4% and the lowest was in Dun Laoghaire Rathdown with 23.7%.  In the same quarter in 2014, there were 6,239 birth registered as outside marriage/civil partnership accounting for 36.3% of all births.

4.6%  of births registered as outside marriage in quarter 3 2015 were registered by mothers under the age of 20.  The average age of first time mothers outside marriage/civil partnership was 28.0 while the average age of all mothers outside marriage/civil partnership was 29.6 years.  In the same quarter in 2014, the average age of mothers having their first baby outside marriage/civil partnership was also 28.0 years while it was 29.5 years for all mothers for births registered outside of marriage/civil partnership.  

 

Cura services

Cura which provides crisis or unplanned pregnancy support and counselling, is to close some of its centres, ie in Kilkenny, Tralee, Ennis, Thurles, Limerick, Athlone, and Wexford.   All services will be delivered through four main centres, in Dublin, Cork, Galway and Waterford and there will be outreach centres in the Louth-Monaghan area, Sligo and Tallaght.

This change has come about due to increased online demand for Cura services.  A 2015 review found that website visits grew by 150 per cent in two years, from 10,563 in 2013 to 26,342 in 2015. By contrast, between 2011 and 2015 there was a 25 per cent drop in face-to-face client contacts, from 848 to 622.

 

Community Law & Mediation

As part of its series of Free Know Your Rights Talks, the Community Law & Mediation Service, Dublin are hosting a talk on 'The Importance of Making a Will'.  This talk will take place on the 6th of May.  For more information call 01-8477804. 

 
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Supported Accommodation Directory

The HSE Sexual health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme has updated the supported accommodation directory.  This is a directory for pregnant young women or lone mothers who may need temporary accommodation. 
See here http://www.crisispregnancy.ie/publication/resources-for-service-providers/

 

  

Children First Act  -  an update!

While the Children First Act has been passed only section 28 which relates to corporal punishment has been commenced, as of the 11th December 2015.  The  result of this change in legislation means that a person who administers corporal punishment to a child will no longer be able to rely on the defence of ‘reasonable chastisement’ in the courts.  The other main provisions of the Act are yet to commence, such as
-  Duties on mandated persons that are obliged under the Act to report Child  â€¨   Protection and Welfare Concerns to TUSLA
-  Establishing the ‘Inter-Departmental Implementation Group’
-  Developing child safeguarding statements


The responsibilities and principles outlined in “Children First, National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children” 2011 and any additional guidance issued by the Minister continues to apply in relation to the safeguarding of children.  These guidelines are currently being revised and updated to reflect the legislation.  This is to ensure that the Guidance will continue as a primary reference for all citizens to report concerns.    

The full text of the Children First Act 2015 is avilable here and a background to the Act can be found at www.dcya.gov.ie.

 

 

The Department of Social Protection:  Interpretive and Translation Services

The Department’s Customer Charter and Action Plan 2013 – 2015 among other issues, sets out specific commitments relating to the provision of interpretive and translation services and the provision of information in alternative formats such as Braille or Audio. 

The following services are provided to customers where required:

  • A translation service for documents required in relation to a claim.
  • A language interpretive service provided by 3-way phone conversation.
  • A face to face service, where an accredited language interpreter attends in person, to facilitate customer/staff interaction.
  • A Sign Language Interpreter to facilitate customer/staff interaction.
  • Written information or application forms in Braille, Audio or Large Print.

For customers requiring any of the services outlined above, contact your nearest Intreo Centre, Local or Branch Office or the office dealing with your claim.

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TREOIR BULLETIN:   December 2015

 

TREOIR:  Chief Executive Officer
Congratulations
Treoir makes a presentation to the Joint Committee on Health and Children on the Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill 2015
CSO Statistics:  Quarter 2 2015
Underage exemption for marriage
Changes within the private rented sector
Family Mediation
Cúnamh Adoption Services
Changes introduced in Budget 2016


TREOIR:  Chief Executive Officer

Treoir is seeking a highly motivated and experienced individual to become its next CEO. The person will have the skills necessary to lead a small non-governmental organisation in a period of significant social change. 

See job description here.  Interested applicants should send a covering letter and curriculum vitae to Chair@treoir.ie.  Closing date for receipt of applications is 18TH January 2016.

 

Congratulations

Congratulations to Dr. Geoffrey Shannon on his appointment as a District Court Judge.  Geoffrey has been a very good friend and supporter of Treoir for many years.  We wish him well in his new appointment. 

We would also like to extend our congratulations to Senator Jillian van Turnhout on being appointed "politician of the year" by the Vincent Brown Show.  The judging panel stated that Senator van Turnhout was being recognised for ‘demonstrating how to bring advocacy issues forward and make a real impact.’ They notedthat ‘her focus on advocacy for children and principled issues have made real and significant changes.’


Treoir makes a presentation to the Joint Committee on Health and Children on the Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill 2015

  

Picture shows Treoir's Chair, Dr. Ruth Barrington, our CEO Margaret Dromey and Senator Jillian van Turnhout


Treoir warmly welcomes the publication of the Report on the Pre-Legislative Scrutiny of the General Scheme and Heads of the Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill 2015 by the Joint Committee on Health and Children.

Many of Treoir's concerns are addressed in the report.  However, we are particularly disappointed that, in the context of wrongful registration, the Committee does not address the current situation whereby ‘inappropriate adoption/birth certificates’ are issued.  

Our concern is about the inappropriateness of adoption/birth certificates being issued under section 89 (2) of the Adoption Act 2010.  The abridged version of the certificate, which appears to be the default version generally provided by the GRO, names the adoptive parents as the mother and father and there is no mention of adoption on the certificate.   There is something incongruous about the State on one hand issuing birth certificates with inaccurate information concealing the fact of adoption while at the same time censuring those who falsely registered births in the past to conceal the fact of adoption.  

We understand that some adoptees would not wish the fact that they are adopted to appear on their ‘new birth certificate’.  A solution needs to be found to enable authentic certificates to be issued while respecting the wishes of these adoptees.   Consideration should be given to a return to short form birth certificates which shows details of the individual only and not of their parentage.


CSO Statistics:  Quarter 2 2015

In quarter 2 2015 there were 10,278 (64.0%) births registered as within marriage and of these 3 were within civil partnerships.  There were 5,786 births registered as outside marriage/civil partnership accounting for 36.0% of all births in the quarter.  Of births registered outside marriage 58.7% were registered by parents giving the same address.  4% were registered by parents under the age of 20.  The highest percentage of births outside marriage/civil partnership was in Limerick City - 58.8% and the lowest was in Dun Laoghaire Rathdown - 25.3%.

 

Underage exemption for marriage

The Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton T.D. and her colleague Frances Fitzgerald, Minister for Justice and Equality received Government approval (Tuesday, 15 December, 2015) for the introduction of primary legislation that will remove the underage exemption for marriages.  

The Government has agreed to amend the Civil Registration Act 2004 to make it an absolute impediment to marriage that a party to the intended marriage is under 18, and to repeal section 33 of the Family Law Act 1995, thereby removing age as one of the criteria from which a party to a marriage can obtain an exemption.  It is expected that removing the underage exemption would have the additional benefit of helping to protect minors against forced marriage.  

While the issue is often raised specifically in relation to girls, it also affects boys. According to CSO figures, 387 minors married at the age of 16 or 17 between 2004 and 2014.  In several cases, both parties to a marriage were minors. In total over the period, 302 girls and 85 boys married in the State at the age of 16 or 17. 

(Press Release from the Department of Social Protection 15/12/2015)

 

Changes within the private rented sector

The Government has announced a package of measures relating to the Private Rented Sector which are designed to stabilise rents and boost supply.

Below are some of the changes effective as of December 2015:

  • The duration between rent reviews has been extended from 12 months to 24 months. A Landlord can seek a review of the rent once in any 24 month period and cannot increase within 24 months of the commencement of the tenancy. If a rent review occurred during 2015, the next review may not occur until 2017. This measure will have effect for a period of 4 years from enactment of the relevant provisions, after which the duration between rent reviews will revert back to 12 months.
  • The period of notice of a new rent has been extended from 28 days to 90 days.  Landlords seeking to review the rent must serve notice on the tenant, in writing, providing 90 days notice before the increase is due to take effect.

The following are some of the changes that will occur following commencement of the relevant legislation contained in the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Bill 2015:

  • deposits will be lodged with the PRTB as opposed to the landlord with consent of both parties required to draw it down on completion of a tenancy
  • landlords will have to provide evidence that rent increases are in line with the local market rate
  • landlords will be able to sell their properties or allow a family member to use them, but they will have to provide a legal declaration that this is the case.

The Housing Assistance Payment limits are being increased in Cork, Galway, Kildare and Meath where flexibility allows for a 20% payment above rent supplement thresholds. For families in emergency accommodation in Dublin City, HAP payments will be allowed for 50% above rent supplement levels.

There will also be a tax relief measure introduced in the Finance Act to allow landlords who lease to tenants in receipt of social housing supports such as rent supplement or the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP), to avail of 100% mortgage interest relief on their borrowings where they commit to accommodating tenants in receipt of the above payments for a minimum period of 3 years.

Contact the Private Residential Tenancies Board for more information.  See here

 

Family Mediation

The Waterford Institute of Technology Family Justice Mediation pilot project takes a different approach to mediation, according to Dr Róisín O’Shea, the project’s principal investigator.  It produces quick, short-term agreements between couples on issues including custody, access, guardianship and maintenance, out of which longer-term agreements can be reached within a specified time. The aim is to reduce long family law lists in the District Courts, and reduce stress and costs associated with family law proceedings.  A significant difference between the WIT pilot model and traditional family mediation is that two mediators, a male and female, are involved, so that there cannot be a claim of gender bias.

Initiated in October 2013, the project focussed initially in Kilkenny and Waterford and has four WIT volunteers and six mediators. Once the pilot has concluded it is hoped that family resource centres around the country will be able to offer the service.  It is run on a not-for-profit basis, self-financing and charges on a means-tested basis, with most clients paying €25 an hour.  Mediation is currently provided at the Newpark Close Family Resource Centre in Kilkenny.

(Irish Times 11/12/2015)

 

Cúnamh Adoption Services

As of the 1st January 2016 Cúnamh will no longer be providing the following services i.e. pregnancy counselling, short term foster care or adoption. If you require these services please contact your nearest Tusla office or Here2Help. Cúnamh will continue to provide a post adoption and an information and tracing service.

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BUDGET 2016

 

Changes introduced in Budget 2016

 

 

SOCIAL WELFARE

 

CHILD BENEFIT

Child Benefit will increase by €5 to €140 for each child per month from January 2016


FAMILY INCOME SUPPLEMENT (FIS)

The income thresholds for FIS will increase by €5 for each of the first two children from January 2016. The threshold for the third and subsequent children has not increased.


FUEL ALLOWANCE

The Fuel Allowance will increase by €2.50 per week to €22.50 from January 2016.


JOBSEEKER’S TRANSTIONAL PAYMENT

The means test for Jobseeker’s Transitional Payment will now be more aligned with the more generous means test for the One-Parent Family Payment. The earnings disregard for Jobseeker’s Transitional Payment will increase from €60 to €90 per week from January 2016 for existing and new recipients. All earnings above €90 will be assessed at 50% (currently assessed at 60%).  

The Jobseeker’s Transitional Payment (JST) is a special arrangement under the Jobseeker’s Allowance  (JA) scheme that aims to support lone parents into the workforce while they have young children. The payment is available to people who are not cohabiting and whose youngest child is aged between 7 and 13 years. The main differences between JA and JST are:

  • you do not have to be available for and genuinely seeking full-time work
  • you can work part-time for 5 days and still receive a payment (subject to the means test).

When your youngest child reaches 14 years of age, the normal Jobseeker’s Allowance conditions will apply to you.

 

COMMUNITY EMPLOYMENT, JOB-BRIDGE

There will be an increase of €2.50 per week in top-up payments paid towards meals and travel costs for Community Employment (CE) and JobBridge participants from January 2016.


PATERNITY LEAVE/PATERNITY BENEFIT

Statutory Paternity Leave of 2 weeks will be introduced for births from September 2016 together with a new Paternity Benefit.  

The new statutory paternity benefit will be paid at a rate of €230 per week, the same as maternity benefit, and will be based on the same PRSI contribution requirements.

 

UNIVERSAL SOCIAL CHARGE (USC)

The rates and thresholds of USC have changed. 

  • Income of €13,000 or less is exempt from USC.
  • If your income exceeds this limit you will pay the relevant rate of USC on all your income.

Standard rates of USC in 2016

Income up to €12.012                     @ 1%
€12,012.01 to €18,668                   @ 3%
€18,668.01 to €70,044                   @ 5.5%
Income above €70,044                   @ 8% 


MINIMUM WAGE

The statutory minimum wage will increase from €8.65 per hour to €9.15 per hour from 1st January 2016

 

 

CHILDCARE 

EARLY CHILDHOOD CARE AND EDUCATION (ECCE) PROGRAMME

The Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Programme provides a free year of early childhood care and education for children of pre-school age. Currently children are entitled to participate in the ECCE Programme for up to 38 weeks. Children aged between 3 years 2 months and 4 years 7 months on 1st September of the relevant year are eligible to join the Programme. Registration for the Programme takes place in September.  

From September 2016 the ECCE Programme will be extended to children aged between three years and five years and six months, or until they start primary school. The number of weeks available on the scheme is increased. Parents will be able to enroll their children in pre-school at three different points during the year- September, January and April. 

 

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TREOIR BULLETIN:   April – June 2015

TREOIR's Information Pack for unmarried parents 2015
TREOIR’s Pre-Budget Submission 2016
TREOIR’S submission to the Courts Service
Constitutional rights for children
CSO Vital Statistics Yearly Summary 2014
Universal free GP service for under-6s
Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act, 2013
Department of Health announces sites for redevelopment of Coombe and Rotunda Hospitals
Better Start
The Prevention, Partnership and Family support programme
Second phase of Growing Up in Ireland Study launched by Dr. James Reilly, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs
First round of Health National Lottery Grants  -  29.6.2015

Register of Lobbying Website Launched
Pro Bono Survey 2014

 

TREOIR's Information Pack for unmarried parents 2015
The 2015 Information Pack is available online and can be sent out on request.  This pack contains legal information on issues such as access, guardianship, maintenance, the rights of cohabiting parents and information on social welfare entitlements and tax issues…and more.  As a result of new legislation, the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 and the Civil Registration (Amendment) Act 2014, there will be many changes to the legal content of this Pack.  To-date none of these changes have taken effect and will not come into force until formal commencement orders are signed.  To keep up-to-date with expected changes see www.treoir.ie, follow us on Facebook or contact the Treoir Information Service on 01-6700120.   

  

TREOIR’s Pre-Budget Submission 2016
While piecemeal reform and tweaking of the social welfare system may benefit certain categories of lone parent families, it does little to raise all lone parent families out of poverty in a long-term sustained way. For this reason, at this stage of economic recovery, Treoir urges the Department of Social Protection to work with other departments to invest in services that would benefit all sections of the community. Treoir believes this would be a more just and equitable approach rather than tax relief and other concessions to higher earners which will only serve to widen the gap between rich and poor.  These investments should concentrate primarily on housing, childcare and the infrastructure and supports surrounding the activation programme for parents on Jobseekers Transitional payment.  This will require the Department of Social Protection to provide a lead on interdepartmental working on behalf of lone parents.
Read Treoir's Pre-Budget Submission 

 

TREOIR’S submission to the Courts Service
Treoir has made a submission to the Courts Service in relation to proposals for new family and children court facilities in Dublin. We believe that following the commencement of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 and the Civil Registration (Amendment) Act 2014 the demands on the Court Service will be even greater than at present. There will be a requirement to have adequate facilities for children, as the legislation will result in many more families availing of the courts. Step-parents, grandparents and others acting in loco-parentis will be able to seek legal remedies that were not available to them in the past. This needs to be taken into account when designing facilities for the future. Read Treoir ‘s recommendations here 

 

Constitutional rights for children
On Friday 24th April the Supreme Court made a unanimous decision to uphold the result of the 31st Amendment to the Constitution, which encodes children’s rights in the Irish Constitution.  Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance said this “marks the beginning of a new era for children’s rights. Under Article 42A(1) of the amendment the State recognises that children have natural and imprescriptible rights which it must protect. This provision will open up the possibility of a new line of jurisprudence on children’s rights from the Superior Courts. It is now imperative that the judiciary and legal professionals are supported to undergo studies on the interpretation of the amendment in line with international best practice”.

 

CSO Vital Statistics Yearly Summary 2014
There were 67,462 births registered in 2014.  There were 24,490 births registered as outside marriage/civil partnership accounting for 36.3% of all births, an increase of 0.9 percentage points from 2013.  58% of births registered as outside marriage were registered by parents giving the same address.  The highest percentage of births outside marriage/civil partnership was in Limerick City at 56.7% and the lowest was in Dun Laoghaire Rathdown with 24.6%.  A total of 1,253 teenagers had babies in 2014, 14% of these were within marriage.

Of births registered as within marriage (42,972) 24 were within civil partnership.
See Vital Statistics and Yearly Summary 2014 here

 

Universal free GP service for under-6s
The enhanced universal free GP service for under-6s started on July 1st 2015.  The majority of GPs have agreed to provide this service, which includes assessments focused on health and wellbeing and the prevention of disease when a child is aged 2 and again at age 5 and an agreed cycle of care for children diagnosed with asthma.  Minister for Health Leo Varadkar TD has said “this universal approach to GP care brings us into line with what other European countries did decades ago”.  The Minister intends to negotiate with the IMO on extending free GP care to more people “increasing resources and extending the scope of primary care.”

Registration for the free GP service for under-6s commenced on June 15th.   If your child does not already have a medical card you will need to register for this service.  To register online and to check the list of participating GPs see the following link:  http://www.hse.ie/eng/services/list/1/schemes/mc/gpvc/under6.html

NOTE:  The HSE has accepted a recommendation of the Clinical Advisory Group to extend medical card eligibility without a means test to all children under the age of 18 years with a diagnosis of cancer.

 

Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act, 2013
The Department of Health published, in June 2015, the first annual report on the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013.  The report covers the period from 1st of January 2014 until the 31st of December 2014 and shows that 26 terminations were carried out under the Act during this time.  Fourteen of these arose from a risk to the life of the mother arising from physical illness, three arose from a risk to the life of the mother from suicide, and nine from a risk to the life of the mother from emergencies arising from physical illness.

In a Department of Health Press Release it is stated that this total number of terminations (26) is in line with annual estimates presented to the Joint Oireachtas Committee hearings on the General Scheme of the Bill in January 2013.  Minister Varadkar said that on the basis of the notifications received by the Department, the evidence indicates that the Act is working and that the hospitals are compliant with the notifications requirement under the Act.  The information published on these procedures is restricted in order to limit the risk of identification in what is a private confidential matter between patients and their doctors.

The HSE has also submitted a report which shows that one application for review was made to the Executive and the Review Committee found that this application did not meet the criteria for a termination of pregnancy under the Act.

The report can be viewed here.

 

Department of Health announces sites for redevelopment of Coombe and Rotunda Hospitals
The Department of Health announced, on 30th June 2015,  the locations for the re-development of the Rotunda and the Coombe Women and Infants University Hospitals.  A review of the proposed sites for the development of maternity hospitals in Dublin was necessary following the Government’s decision to develop the new children’s hospital at the St James’s campus, and the need to develop a maternity hospital on that site.

The Coombe will relocate to St James’s and the Rotunda will move to the Connolly Hospital Blanchardstown site.  Confirming this decision Minister Varadkar said “While the Rotunda and the Coombe have served Dublin and the country well as stand-alone hospitals, current best practice is to co-locate maternity hospitals with adult acute hospitals”.  The current model in Dublin of stand-alone maternity hospitals is not the norm internationally and KPMG recommended in their 2008 report on maternity services in the Greater Dublin Area that all maternity hospitals should be co-located with adult acute services in order to provide optimal clinical outcomes. 

An earlier decision was made to move the National Maternity Hospital from Holles Street to the campus at St Vincent’s University Hospital. This means that all three Dublin maternity hospitals will at a future stage be located alongside major adult teaching hospitals.

 


Better Start
On May of this year the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs officially launched ‘Better Start, the National Early Years Quality Development Service’.  The aim of this national initiative, established by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA), is to bring an integrated national approach to developing quality in Early Years Education and Care (ECEC) for children aged from birth to six years in Ireland.  It will coordinate and extend supports and services already provided through City and County Childcare Committees and Voluntary Childcare Organisations. Thirty graduates have been recruited and trained in early childhood care and education to work directly with services in a mentoring capacity.  Better Start is managed and fully funded by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and hosted by Pobal.
Find out more from www.betterstart.ie

 


The Prevention, Partnership and Family support programme
The Prevention, Partnership and Family support programme will begin this year and will run into 2018 — courtesy of a non-discretionary grant of €8.3m from Atlantic Philanthropies and supported by the Unesco Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway.  A central plank of the programme will be the national rollout of Meitheal — a model for family support led by Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, which allows children, young people, and their families to get supports locally when needed through a range of statutory and non-statutory agencies. Four regional implementation managers will be recruited, while Child and Family Support Networks will be set up throughout the country. There have long been calls for the state to provide more of a focus on early intervention measures, rather than situations involving children reaching a crisis point before action is taken.  (Irish Times – April 2015)



Second phase of Growing Up in Ireland Study launched by Dr. James Reilly, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs
Growing Up in Ireland: the National Longitudinal Study of Children, Phase 2, 2015-2019 was launched by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr. James Reilly T.D., in June.  Minister Reilly confirmed that his Department will continue to fund and oversee this important Study over the period 2015 to 2019, in association with the Central Statistics Office and the Department of Social Protection. The second phase of the Study will be implemented by a team of researchers led by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) and Trinity College Dublin.  The purpose of the Growing Up in Ireland Study is to study the factors that contribute to or undermine the well-being of children in contemporary Irish families, and through this, to contribute to the setting of effective and responsive policies relating to children and to the design of services for children and families.

See Press Release from the Department of Children and Youth Affairs


First round of Health National Lottery Grants  -  29.6.2015

Over 70 organisations across Ireland have been awarded funding of €1.9 million under the latest round of National Lottery Grants from the Department of Health.  This is the first of two announcements that will take place this year, in which the Department of Health provides once-off grants to organisations
for healthcare-related and social care services.  Minister Varadkar said the funding will benefit community groups and voluntary organisations which provide healthcare-related and social care services to specific client groups.
View organisations awarded funding here.



Register of Lobbying Website Launched

Brendan Howlin T.D., Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, has launched the Register of Lobbying Website.  From September this year, the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015 requires that organisations that employ more than ten staff (or if their primary activity is lobbying/advocacy, organisations that employ one or more staff) will be required to record all lobbying activity/communications that they engage in with Designated Public Officials (currently County Councillors, Ministers and Ministers of State, Ministers' Special Advisers, MEPs, Chief Executives and Directors of Services in County Councils and public officials at the level of Assistant Secretary or above) in the Register of Lobbying.  You can find out more, and access the Register of Lobbying at www.lobbying.ie. â€¨ 



Pro Bono Survey 2014
The Public Interest Law Alliance (PILA) has produced the first ever survey on pro bono legal work in Ireland (March 2015).  PILA was set up by the Free Legal Advice Centre (FLAC) in 2009 to promote public interest law in Ireland and for the purposes of this survey describes pro bono work as the provision of legal services:

  1. free of charge, and without expectation of a fee;
  2. in the public interest;
  3. for individuals, or for charitable and other non-profit making organisations;
  4. who cannot afford to pay and/or where the legal need is unmet.

The survey shows that despite recognition of pro bono as something that lawyers typically do as part of their work, such work needs to be more structured and more visible in legal businesses. The survey was conducted among 464 individual solicitors and barristers from all over Ireland.  Almost three-quarters had done legal work for free in their career with almost 40% doing pro bono work regularly.  Most of the legal work being offered free of charge involves legal research, advice or document drafting (62%) followed by providing legal advice in a clinic (33%) and representation (21%).

Read survey here:   Pro Bono Survey 2014

 

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 TREOIR BULLETIN:  January - March 2015

 

Significant New Family Legislation:-   The children and Family Relationships Act 2015
Compulsory registration of father’s name on child’s birth cert is now law
CSO Vital Statistics – Quarter 3 2014
One-Parent Family Payment:  Carers Allowance
Back to Work Family Dividend Scheme
Maintenance Recovery Unit Investigations – 2014
Mother and Baby Homes
A new national strategy for research and innovation
The Power of Positive Parenting
Know Your Rights:  The Rights of Children and Young People
Social Housing
Mercy Law Resource Centre (MLRC)
The lawlessness of the home:  Women’s experiences of seeking legal remedies to domestic violence and abuse in the Irish legal system

 



 

Significant New Family Legislation

The Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 passed all stages in the Oireachtas in March and was then signed into law by President Michael D. Higgins.  This is a hugely significant piece of legislation impacting on all families in Ireland.

The legislation addresses issues such as: 

  • Automatic guardianship rights for unmarried fathers cohabiting with the mother of their child for one year, 3 months of which must be post the birth
  • Birth Registrars may facilitate unmarried parents to become joint guardians by agreement at the time of birth registration/re-registration
  • Parental rights in relation to Assisted Human Reproduction(AHR) and preserving the child’s identity
  • Cohabiting parents, both opposite and same-sex, and their eligibility to apply to adopt
  • The right for children to be consulted and ‘given a voice’ in decisions affecting them. 
  • Courts in making decisions in relation to guardianship, access and custody shall have regard to “the best interests of the child as the paramount consideration” 
  • The appointment of additional legal guardians for a child, e.g. step-parents and grandparents.

Treoir very much welcomes this legislation and was pleased that although not all our suggested amendments were taken up, following extensive campaigning there were some changes made.  Included in the Act is an automatic entitlement to guardianship rights for unmarried fathers who have been cohabiting with the mother for 12 months and 3 of these months must be post birth. Treoir’s belief is that this does not go far enough as it does nothing for all those very involved and committed fathers who do not or may never have cohabited with the mother.  An amendment was incorporated empowering Birth Registrars to witness statutory declarations for joint guardianship at the time of registration (or re-registration) or within 14 days.  The significance of this is that parents will now be informed at an early stage as to their legal status.

Treoir is very disappointed that our recommendation for the setting up of a Central Register for guardianship agreements was not included although the Minister for Justice has committed to piloting a project to this effect.  During the Dail debate the Minister said “Treoir makes the point that we keep records of many things in this country but there are many contracts that we do not keep records of. This is a very important aspect of a child's and a family’s life. I am suggesting in amendment No. 60 that I would begin the process of moving towards that by having two pilot projects to work with organisations, such as Treoir and Women’s Aid, which have a point of view on this to see how we can put together a policy approach and a recommendation on how to move forward”.

She acknowledged that “It is preferable to have a repository in which non-marital parents could deposit a statutory declaration so they have security in terms of seeking additional copies of the declaration if the original copy were lost or destroyed.”  The Minister also said that “ the lessons from the pilot project will inform us on whether to proceed with the establishment of a national repository”.

This new legislation is good news for grandparents who have the primary care of their grandchild for a period of 12 months or more and who will be eligible to apply for legal custody and guardianship. 

NOTE:  The Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 although passed has not yet been commenced.  We will be following the progress of this Act closely and will  keep our members and clients informed on any commencement dates on Facebook, Treoir website and Newsletters.

Download The Children and Family Relationships Act 2015.

 

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Compulsory registration of father’s name on child’s birth cert is now law

It is a child’s fundamental human right to have the names of both parents on his/her birth certificate. Following the passing of The  Civil Registration (Amendment) Act 2014on the 4th December 2014, procedures are being drafted which will, for the first time in Ireland, place a duty on unmarried parents to register the father’s name on the birth certificate of their child. 

Where a mother attends to register the birth without the father, the Registrar will ask her for his contact details. The Registrar will then make ‘all reasonable efforts’ to contact the father and invite him to attend the Registrar’s Office within 28 days in order to complete the registration.  Only in exceptional cases, where ‘compelling reasons’ are provided, will it be permitted to omit the father’s name.  These compelling reasons are where the mother:

(a)  does not know the identity of the father of the child, or

(b) does not know the whereabouts of the father of the child, or

(c)  believes that providing the information is not in the best

interests of the safety of the child and can show evidence as to why she has that belief.

If parents cannot agree a surname for the child, the birth will be registered but no surname will be assigned to the child until agreement is reached. 
Read more in Treoir's press release.

See Civil Registration (Amendment) Act 2014

NOTE:  The Civil Registration (Amendment) Act 2014 although passed has not yet been commenced.  We will be following the progress of this Act closely and will  keep our members and clients informed on any commencement dates on Facebook, Treoir website and Newsletters.

 

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CSO Vital Statistics – Quarter 3 2014

There were 17,197 births in quarter 3 2014.  In the same quarter, there were 6,239 births registered as outside marriage/civil partnership accounting for 36.3% of all births.  Sixty eight percent of births registered to unmarried parents were to parents giving the same address.  The highest percentage of births outside marriage/civil partnership was in Limerick City at 57.4% and the lowest was in Galway County with 25.4%.  4.6% of births outside marriage/civil partnership were registered by teen parents.

 

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One-Parent Family Payment:  Carers Allowance

On 2 July 2015 the age limit(of the child) for the One-Parent Family Payment will reduce to 7 years for most claimants.  There are exemptions to the age limit for people parenting alone who are getting a Domiciliary Care Allowance, who have been recently bereaved and for people getting a half-rate Carer's Allowance with their OFP.  A new age limit of 16 is proposed for people who are caring and getting a half-rate Carer’s Allowance with their OFP.

The Department of Social Protection (DSP) will send letters to those affected by the changes inviting them to attend an information seminar on other social welfare payments that may be available and to help with applying.  It is very important to attend these seminars so that recipients understand their options and are not left without a payment when their OFP ends in July.

Further information and advice can be obtained at your Intreo centre, social welfare local office.

 

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Back to Work Family Dividend Scheme

The Back to Work Family Dividend (BTWFD) scheme, commenced in April 2015. The scheme provides financial support to Jobseekers and One-Parent Family Payment(OFP) recipients with children who end their claim to take up employment, increase hours of employment or take up self-employment.   You

may be eligible if you do not claim another primary welfare payment, except FIS and Child Benefit.  BTWFD can be paid with FIS and does not impact on the FIS means test.

If you qualify for this scheme you will be entitled to a weekly payment for up to 2 years following the ending of your social welfare claim.  This payment will be based on the Qualified Child standard rate of €29.80 up to a maximum payment of €119.20 for 4 children for the first year.  The BTWFD will be reduced by half that amount in the second year.
Further information on the BTWFD is available from your Intreo Centre or Local Social Welfare Office on www.welfare.ie

 

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Maintenance Recovery Unit Investigations - 2014

Figures provided by the Department of Social Protection’s maintenance recovery unit (MRU) show that they reviewed 8,063 cases last year — down from 10,709 in 2013.  However, estimated savings for this period increased — from €3.29m in 2013 to €3.89m last year.  As a result of MRU investigations, savings were made through a combination of direct payments made to the Department, reduced OFP payments and as a result of OFP payments being disallowed.

In cases where the One-parent Family Payment (OFP) is awarded and child maintenance is not being paid, the MRU may seek to trace the other parent or “liable relative” in order to determine whether or not they are in a financial position to contribute towards the cost of the OFP.  Of the 8,063 liable relatives contacted last year, 967 were found to be living outside the State or could not be traced, while 558 liable relatives were classified as unknown.

A Department spokesperson said: “The MRU cannot pursue liable relatives who are living outside the Republic of Ireland, or those who cannot be traced based on the information provided by the parent claiming OFP”.

The MRU issued 2,586 determination orders to liable relatives who were found to have an “apparent ability” to pay maintenance for their children.  Less than half of those contacted began making payments, or additional payments directly to the other parent (average payment being €48.84 per week)and 69 liable relatives started paying the Department directly (average payment being €60.64 per week).

(Irish Examiner 11/2/2015)

 

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Mother and Baby Homes

The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr. James Reilly TD, announced in February the appointment of three Commissioners to lead the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes and certain related matters. The Minister confirmed the appointment of Judge Yvonne Murphy as Commission Chairperson, with international legal expert on child protection and adoption Dr. William Duncan, and historian Professor Mary E. Daly, appointed as Commissioners.  The Commission’s powers include the power to direct witnesses to answer questions and produce documents. These powers are to ensure that no information is withheld.  The Minister said “this is a significant moment as the Commission can now start the process to ensure that what was once hidden and covered up in these Homes, and in wider society, can be revealed and openly acknowledged.  This investigation is an opportunity for Irish society to address the often harrowing manner in which vulnerable women and children were treated in mother and baby homes, how they came to be there in the first place and the circumstances of their departure from the Homes.” 

The timeframe for the completion of the work of the Commission is three years.

 

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A new national strategy for research and innovation

A new partnership was announced in March between the Irish Research Council and The Wheel aimed at engaging community and voluntary organisations in academic research.  Under the partnership, the IRC is awarding almost €400,000 to support collaborative projects between community and voluntary groups and researchers.  The types of organisations receiving funding will typically be those with limited resources and often those with insufficient in-house capacity to conduct research.  Under the new initiative, researchers from higher education institutions throughout Ireland are collaborating with organisations such as Trocaire, Pieta House, GLEN, the Immigrant Council of Ireland, Cystic Fibrosis Ireland and the ISPCA.

For more information see www.research.ie

 

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The Power of Positive Parenting

Positive Parenting Programme:  Triple Phas been trialled as a universal public health initiative in the Midlands and has been the subject of an independent population study conducted by the UNESCO Child and Family Research of NUI, Galway.  The research, carried out over three years in Longford-Westmeath, shows that the number of children with emotional and behavioural problems is significantly reduced in the population as a whole when compared with a similar area where the Triple P programme was not delivered.

See www.triplep-parenting.net

(Irish Times 13/1/2015)

 

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Know Your Rights:  The Rights of Children and Young People
The Know Your Rights project is a public information project of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) and the Children’s Rights Alliance designed to inform people in clear and accessible language about their rights under various key areas of the law in Ireland.  Know Your Rights: The Rights of Children and Young People was launched on the 28th March 2015 and is the sixth publication in the series and deals with topics such as:

  • My right to be treated equally, to be included and to make my own decisions
  • My right to education
  • My right to health
  • My rights in the family
  • My rights as a migrant

Packs are available for print and can be downloaded free of charge at www.knowyourrights.ie

 

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Social Housing

On the 1st of April, the Minster for the Environment Alan Kelly announced details of the social housing targets for local authorities to 2017.  This announcement came as part of the Government’s €3.8 billion social housing strategy announced last November to 2020.  Over €1.5 billion is to be spent on a combination of building, buying and leasing schemes by local authorities designed to accommodate 25 per cent of the 90,000 households currently on housing waiting lists for social housing.  Speaking during a visit to a social housing development site on Lord Edward St in Limerick city, where 83 units are being constructed, Mr Kelly said there was no political bias in the allocation of local authority funding and insisted all decisions were based on need. Local authorities that meet their targets will be given additional resources and those that do not will surrender some of their allocation.
(Irish Times 1/4/2015)

 

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Mercy Law Resource Centre (MLRC)

MLRC is an independent law centre, registered charity and company limited by guarantee which provides free legal advice and representation to people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless in the areas of social housing and social welfare law.  The Centre also seeks to advocate change in laws and policies.

The Centre provides the following services to persons living in Dublin:

  • Free Legal Advice Clinics in homeless hostels and centres for homeless people
  • Legal Representation
  • Befriending Service
  • Legal Support & training to organisations working in the field of Homelessness
  • Policy Work.

Cases involving people who live outside Dublin may be undertaken on an exceptional basis. 
See www.mercylaw.ie for further information.  MLRC can be contacted at
Tel: 01 453 7459.

 

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The lawlessness of the home:  Women’s experiences of seeking legal remedies to domestic violence and abuse in the Irish legal system

New research from SAFE Ireland shows that the Irish legal system is not working for women and children living with domestic violence and abuse.  This research was launched in March by the Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald, TD on behalf of SAFE Ireland, the national representative body for women’s frontline domestic violence services in Ireland. This research is seen as a step towards assessing the efficacy of the Irish legal system’s response to women seeking legal remedies to violence and abuse at the hands of an intimate partner.  The research document makes 34 recommendations under eight themes.  These have been approved by the National Steering Committee on Violence Against Women and have been submitted to the Joint Oireachtas Committeee on Justice and Equality. 

Five of the priority recommendations are as follows:

  • expand the legal definition of domestic abuse and violence
  • put in place a system that will ensure that the application of law is consistent and has cohesion
  • introduce a risk assessment toolkit and homicide review structures
  • enact the Children and Family Relationships Bill 2015
  • ensure that there are special measures in place for victims of domestic violence so that barriers to accessing the justice system are removed.

Link to full and summary report here.

 

 

 

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