Guiding the Gals: A Case of Hesitant Policy-Making in the Republic of Ireland
Irish Journal of Family Law, (2009) 12(3) IJFL 60
Posted: 12 Jun 2014
Date Written: June 1, 2014
This article charts the development of the role of the Guardian ad litem in Ireland since its introduction into legislation in the Child Care Act 1991. It outlines that the Guardian ad litem was introduced into legislation following an amendment to the Child Care Bill 1988, and was modelled in part on the system in operation in England and Wales. The Guardian ad litem had been introduced in these jurisdictions in the aftermath of high profile child abuse inquiries and was intended to provide a safeguard for young people in public law proceedings. This article notes that there have been several critiques of the absence of policy and practice guidance in the administration and governance of the role of the Guardian ad litem in the Irish context. It reviews the recent guidelines Giving a Voice to Children's Wishes, Feelings and Interests published by the Children Acts Advisory Board ("CAAB"). This guidance is explored with reference to previous policy documents and research literature in this area. The article concludes that while the CAAB guidance provides some welcome clarity on aspects of the role of the Guardian ad litem broader macro-policy issues remain unaddressed and therefore it is concluded that the guidance represents a further example of hesitant policy direction in matters concerning children in care or on the edges of the care system.
Keywords: Guardian ad Litem, Family Law, Children's advocacy
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