June 2015

June 2015

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.

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