Protocol for reporting child care law proceedings

  1. The Child Law Project shall operate under the relevant Rules of Court for the District Court, known as Order 61A, Requirements under Section 40, Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004 Section 29(5), and Statutory Instrument No 467 of the Child Care Act 1991.
  2. The reports shall be published in the first instance by the Child Law Project in printed or electronic form, which will be made available to the public through its website and the media. The project will permit their dissemination through the re-publication of articles and reports on such terms as to the identification of the source, and subject to such restrictions as to re-editing, as the project may specify.
  3. The reporter shall take the utmost care to ensure that the reports do not contain any information that could lead to the identification of any child, parent or guardian or foster parent who is the subject of or party to the proceedings.
  4. The following measures will be taken to ensure the anonymity of the children, their families and foster parents, as applicable:
    1. Reports shall not use the initials of the parties’ names in identifying published reports of individual cases. Instead reports shall refer to “the child”, “the mother”, “the father” or other relative where one child is involved. Where more than one child is involved the reports shall allocate alphabetical letters to the children.
    2. There shall be no reference to the city or town where the families live outside of Dublin, where there is a large volume of such cases. Instead such terms as “a provincial city” or “a rural town” should be used.
    3. There shall be no specific reference to the trade or profession of the parents, unless it is relevant to the issues in the proceedings.
    4. There shall be no identification of the children’s school or therapeutic facility. If the child is attending a special school and this is relevant to the issues in the proceedings the specific school will not be identified.
    5. Particular sensitivity shall be shown in dealing with psychological and welfare reports on children. Where specific details of sexual or physical abuse are relevant to the proceedings they may be reported upon in the detail relevant to the proceedings and the orders being sought. The practice of the reporting of rape and sexual abuse criminal cases by the responsible media offers a useful example of how this can be done.
    6. The guidelines on the preservation of anonymity under paragraph 2 above shall apply to the contents of any document filed or produced to the court or to any order made by the court.
    7. The utmost care will be taken to ensure that details of case numbers and other case identifiers maintained by the reporters for the purpose of research and analysis, as distinct from reporting on individual cases, are maintained securely.
  5. Interim and final reports on the findings of the project will also ensure the preservation of the anonymity of the families concerned.

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