Youth Courts and Childrens Rights: The Irish Experience

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Youth Courts and Childrens Rights: The Irish Experience

Recorded on July 2016

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Author: U. Kilkelly

Publisher: Youth Justice

Date: 2008

Geographic Coverage: Ireland

Type of Resource: Academic

Sector/setting: Justice

Vulnerable groups: Other

Developed with children and young people? No

Type of participation: Other

Availability: Open Access

Keywords: Garda, Courts, Diversion Programme, First-time Young Offenders, Police, Problems, Rights, Young People, Youth Justice System



The Irish youth justice system is currently undergoing substantial reform. When complete, the system will divert most first-time young offenders away from the courts via the Garda (police) Diversion Programme. Those who go to court may be offered the opportunity of a family conference directed by either the Health Service Executive or the Probation Service as an alternative to conviction, or if convicted, may receive one of a wide range of community sanctions designed to present an alternative to detention. However, reform of the Children Court, which is at the heart of the Irish system, is not part of this process despite difficulties with its operation and questions about the extent to which it meets international children’s rights standards.

This article highlights the problems faced by the Court and explains why, in addition to the reforms above, it is vital that the Court be overhauled both to address its effectiveness as the central agency in the youth justice system, but also to ensure that the rights of the young people before it are fully vindicated.