NDA Submission to the Consultation on a Family Justice Strategy
A survey was launched in May 2021 to gather experiences and recommendations from stakeholders and service users. The NDA submitted views, highlighting Ireland’s obligations under Articles 13 (Access to Justice) and 23 (Respect for home and family) of the UNCRPD. The NDA stressed the importance of considering the wider context of family justice and, in particular, the factors which may contribute to families being involved in separation, divorce and custody and child care proceedings, noting that Irish research has demonstrated the inadequacies in the provision of parental and/or family supports to parents of children with disabilities.
The submission pointed to the Ombudsman for Children’s recent report which stated that a high proportion of children taken into the care of the State are children with disabilities. It also noted research carried out by the Childcare Law Reporting Project which showed that the single biggest factor leading to care proceedings in family court cases was the mental health of one or both parents.
The NDA also made comments on:
- Persons with disabilities being at higher risk of violence and abuse, including domestic abuse, than others
- The recommendations made by both the NDA and O’Malley Review on Protections for Witnesses in the Investigation and Prosecution of Sexual Offences around the use of intermediaries in the criminal justice system, for person with disabilities, persons with communication difficulties and children
- The need to ensure that court processes and documents are accessible and inclusive. The NDA noted its Customer Communications Toolkit, its guidance for justice professionals in communicating with people with autism, and obligations under the ISL Act
- The need for effective engagement of service users, and the improvement in the collection and dissemination of data, in order to inform and guide future decision-making and service design.