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Minister for Justice releases figures on child abductions during 2011

Releasing the figures on parental-child abduction, Alan Shatter urged estranged partners experiencing problems to seek mediation in the best interests of the children involved.

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter
Minister for Justice Alan Shatter
Image: Julien Behal/PA Wire/Press Association Images

THE JUSTICE MINISTER has released details of child abduction cases from 2011, which show that his Department dealt with a total of 261 cases last year.

Of the cases dealt with, 142 were new – an increase of two cases on 2010 – while 119 were ongoing cases carried over from the previous year.

The 142 new cases involved 198 children: 53 cases concerned incoming abductions from other countries into Ireland, while 89 concerned outgoing abductions from the State to other countries.

Of the 119 cases carried over from the previous year, 60 were incoming and 59 were outgoing.

In total, 113 incoming cases and 148 outgoing cases were being processed by the Irish Central Authority in liaison with other national Central Authorities.

Of the 142 new applications received by the Irish Central Authority,:

  • 61 per cent  (87) involved the United Kingdom
  • 7 per cent (10) involved Poland
  • 4 per cent (6) involved Latvia
  • 16 per cent (22) involved other European countries
  • 12 per cent  (17) other contracting states (ie USA, Canada, Australia, South Africa)

Releasing the figures, Minister Shatter said that parental-child abduction remained a “constant problem”:

When family conflict occurs, it is important that estranged parents and spouses exhaust all their options to resolve differences and reach agreement in the best interests of the children involved.  The use of mediation to resolve difficulties can result in agreements that can last while minimising the negative impact on all those involved.

Shatter said that, to aid families’ access mediation, the Family Mediation Service had now been formally merged with the Legal Aid Board.  He added that the Government has approved proposals for a Mediation Bill which is currently being drafted.

Breakdown of cases dealt with by the Irish Central Authority in 2011

Incoming Cases:

In 24 cases, it was decided mostly on a voluntary or consent basis that the children return to where they had been living.

Meanwhile, in 12 applications, it was agreed that access arrangements be put in place and in 3 applications the High Court refused the return of the children. Some 62 cases were awaiting resolution at the end of the year.

Outgoing Cases:

In 27 applications, it was decided that the children should return to where they had been living: of those, in 17 cases foreign courts ordered the return of the children and in 10 applications, the children were either returned voluntarily or the parties reached an agreement.  In 5 applications, foreign courts refused the return of the children

Some 21 outgoing applications were withdrawn, and 72 cases were awaiting resolution at the end of the year.

Read: Child protection bill published to close sex abuse law loophole

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