Children killed in violent crimes can be named publicly from today

Children killed in violent crimes can be named publicly from today

Justice Minister Helen McEntee signed the commencement order for the act last month. The act also allows the media to name people accused of killing children. Picture: Sasko Lazarov / RollingNews.ie

Children who have been killed in violent crimes can be named publicly from today onwards, as a new law comes into effect.

The Children's Act has been amended and a ban on identifying them has been lifted.

The act also allows the media to name people accused of killing children.

The Government was forced to introduce fresh legislation after the Court of Appeal rejected an application by several media outlets to be allowed to name a woman who smothered her three-year-old child to death with a pillow last October.

Mr Justice Michael White ordered that the deceased child should not be identified and, as a consequence, the woman cannot be named as to do so would identify the dead child.

The judge said that, under Section 252 of the Children Act 2001, it was an offence to publish anything that could identify a child who is an alleged victim of an offence.

Media outlets had challenged that interpretation of the legislation, saying that the deceased was no longer a child.

However, Mr Justice George Birmingham, said it is "almost beyond argument" that the court proceedings were in respect of an offence against a child. He said it is not possible to interpret Section 252 "as not including a deceased person who was a child at the time of death".

He accepted that the media may find the ruling "surprising" and that, if change were required, it was a matter for the Oireachtas.

Justice Minister Helen McEntee signed the commencement order for the act last month after the legislation passed through the Houses of the Oireachtas and President Michael D Higgins signed the Bill into law.

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