Cabinet to end ban on identification of children who have been killed

Government meeting unlikely to take any decision on this year’s Leaving Certificate exams

The Cabinet is expected to approve new plans to end the ban on the public identification of children who have been killed.

The Government will move to allow the identity of a child to be published in any proceedings involving the death of a child.

It will also move to allow for the publication of the identity of an accused person in proceedings involving the death of a child.

The publication of the identity of an adult victim who was a child at the time of offence will also be allowed.


Minister for Justice Helen McEntee is expected to tell the Cabinet that the quickest way to deal with this issue is by supporting a Seanad Private Members’ Bill being brought by Independent Senator Michael McDowell.

The Government plans to make amendments at committee stage, rather than putting forward a Bill. The legislation will be taken in Government time in the Seanad next week.

Last October, the Court of Appeal ruled that provisions within the 2001 Children’s Act preventing the identification of a child when someone is charged with an offence against them do not exclude children who are deceased.

Significant departure

The ruling marked a significant departure from established media reporting practices in the State, effectively preventing their identification once someone had been charged in relation to their death.

It has also caused upset to families of the deceased who are themselves prohibited from speaking about their children publicly if they identify them by doing so.

“Minister McEntee is acutely conscious of the pain and difficulty this is causing so many people, including parents who want to remember their children and preserve the legacy of their children,” a source said on Monday.

Ms McEntee has met with Mr McDowell and Fianna Fáil TD Jim O’Callaghan, who has also proposed legislation on the same topic.

Meanwhile, sources have said it is unlikely that there will be any decision at Cabinet on Tuesday in relation to this year’s Leaving Certificate exam.

It had been hoped that a meeting of the Cabinet education subcommittee could take place on Monday, but talks between the Government and education partners are ongoing.

Minister for Education Norma Foley confirmed last week that planning has officially begun for Leaving Cert examinations and a “parallel” alternative assessment option, which will not involve exams, for students.

Standardisation process

Sources say it is likely that the alternative option will be a modified version of last year’s calculated grades model, which involved teachers assessing their own students and a national standardisation process.

It comes as the Minister of State in the Department of Education, Josepha Madigan, told the Seanad that various measures have been agreed in order to facilitate the phased reopening of schools for children with special educational needs later this week.

She said there is a “commitment to begin in-person learning for students in primary school mainstream classes from February 22nd.”

Ms Madigan said it would “hopefully be the first step in a wider return to school for all students”.


Meanwhile, the Cabinet is also expected to agree a new support for businesses that have had to close or are suffering sharply restricted activity due to the Covid-19 restrictions.

An existing scheme – the Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) – was introduced in the budget to support companies that have had to close their doors to customers, offering them up to €5,000 a week.

However, many companies who do not trade directly with the public were also hit by restrictions, but did not qualify for the CRSS support. The Government is set to consider a new support – the Covid Business Aid Scheme – aimed at helping these companies meet their fixed costs.

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times