Amendments Nos. 102-105 inclusive not moved.

Section 17 deleted as amendment No. 100 was agreed.

Section 17 deleted.


Amendment No. 106 in the name of Deputy Yates was discussed with amendment No. 47.

I move amendment No. 106:

In page 12, before section 18, to insert the following new section:

"18.—Where on the application of a health board or child care authority with respect to a child who resides or is found in its area, the court is satisfied that the child has or is being assaulted, ill-treated, seriously neglected or sexually abused, the court may make an order under this section whereby the offending adult may be removed from the home and barred from re-entry until such time as the court may deem fit, so as to protect the interests of the child. The court may use such a barring order as an alternative to a care or supervision order.".

I do not want us to have as long a debate as we had on previous amendments. I might just reiterate that this is one of the most crucial areas of concern to child care and social workers. At present the system does not enable a health board to obtain an ex parte barring order. The procedure available to them is very long and complicated. In the event of a child being at risk from sexual or physical abuse — as we have said before — it could be important to make it possible to remove the offending parent from the home. This is what this amendment is about. I might stress that this is an issue that has arisen continuously in the Law Reform Commission reports and discussion papers, that is the need to introduce legislation which will facilitate the removal of an offending parent from the home where there is child abuse. I do not want to go to town on it. We all feel uniformly strongly about that issue.

I want to put on record the Labour Party's support for the whole concept of removing the guilty party. We have had a long debate about it. I support the amendment on that basis.

I compliment those on the far side of the table on withdrawing their amendment, leaving it to the Minister to come back with another. The whole of the barring order area is fraught with problems. Anyone in practice would know that, while the concept is correct and good, sometimes the barring order works against the situation of households. I am speaking particularly from my knowledge — that there are cases in which husbands who have been barred only await the day they can return to the house, and thereafter they are very much more aware of what they can or cannot do in that house. Any decision to bring the barring procedure into the child care area needs very detailed discussion. I would agree that we should await the final report of the Law Reform Commission on this area.

As various Deputies have recalled this amendment was dealt with earlier in the course of our lengthy discussions on barring orders in the context of amendment No. 47 tabled by Deputy Fennell. At that time it was agreed that amendment No. 47 and associated amendments Nos. 70 and 71 would be withdrawn on the understanding that the whole question of the use of barring orders in child care and child abuse cases would be re-examined on Report Stage. That was agreed. I confirm that we are very much in agreement with this on the basis that the final report and recommendations of the Law Reform Commission on the subject of child sexual abuse will be available by then. I would suggest that Deputy Fennell might withdraw this amendment on this basis. We will give it thorough consideration on Report Stage based on the availability of that report

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.