Supreme Court Ruling ‘Very Significant’ For the Rights of Parents and their Children under the Constitution - IHREC - Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

Supreme Court Ruling ‘Very Significant’ For the Rights of Parents and their Children under the Constitution

Commission as Amicus Curiae Highlighted Issues of Rights of the Child and Wardship Rights in ‘difficult, complex and troubling’ Case

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (‘the Commission’) has described today’s Supreme Court ruling in the case of In the Matter of JJ, which concerned medical treatment, the rights of the child and the rights of minor wards of court as “a very significant one in respect of the rights of parents and their children under the Constitution”.

The Commission exercised its amicus curiae (‘friend of the court’) function in this difficult case and is now studying in detail the weighty judgment in particular respect to issues raised of wardship and the rights of children.

The case focused on the medical treatment of John (not his real name), an eleven-year-old boy who suffered life changing neurological injuries in an accident. The Commission argued that any decision in respect of John’s treatment had to be made in a manner that balanced and protected his constitutional rights as a child, with due regard to the rights of his parents.

The Commission also queried whether the decision to make John a ward of court was a proportionate interference with his rights in circumstances where, the Commission argued, it removed decision-making capacity from his parents.

The Commission’s involvement in the case builds on previous amicus curiae interventions in the area of wardship including C v Cork University Hospital and Ors and was noted by the Supreme Court in its ruling: The arguments have been comprehensively advanced and have been of considerable assistance to the court in coming to its conclusion. In that regard, we should say that we appreciate the value of submissions made by the parties notified by the court – in this case, the Attorney General and IHREC – in relation to the general legal issues.”

Sinéad Gibney, Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission stated:

This is an extremely difficult case. In our involvement, we have been mindful that at the centre of this a young boy of 11, his devoted parents and his loving family who are in the midst of the most awful circumstances, and who are in our thoughts.

“In light of the circumstances involved, today’s decision is acknowledged by the Court as ‘difficult, complex and troubling’, and the Commission will take time to study this judgment and its implications in detail, however it is clear that today’s ruling is a very significant one in respect of the rights of parents and their children under the Constitution.”

ENDS/

For further information, please contact:

Brian Dawson, IHREC Communications Manager,

01 8589601 / 087 0697095

bdawson@ihrec.ie

Follow us on twitter @_IHREC

Editor’s Note

The written submissions made in December by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission to the Supreme Court are available at the following link:

https://www.ihrec.ie/app/uploads/2020/12/In-matter-of-JJ-IHREC-Submissions-FINAL.pdf

The amicus curiae function of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission.

The Commission’s functions under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014 include that of applying for liberty to appear as an amicus curiae (friend of the court) before the superior courts in proceedings that involve, or are concerned with, the human rights or equality rights of any person.

Section 10 of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act sets out the functions of the Commission and Section 10(2)(e) provides that the IHREC shall have a function:

“to apply to the High Court or the Supreme Court for liberty to appear before the High Court or the Supreme Court, as the case may be, as amicus curiae in proceedings before that Court that involve or are concerned with the human rights or equality rights of any person and to appear as such an amicus curiae on foot of such liberty being granted (which liberty each of the said courts is hereby empowered to grant in its absolute discretion).”

Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is an independent public body, appointed by the President and directly accountable to the Oireachtas. The Commission has a statutory remit set out under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act (2014) to protect and promote human rights and equality in Ireland, and build a culture of respect for human rights, equality and intercultural understanding in the State.

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is Ireland’s national human rights institution and is recognised as such by the United Nations. The Commission is also Ireland’s national equality body for the purpose of a range of EU anti-discrimination measures.

 

 

 

 

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