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The Explainer: Why has the Irish media been barred from reporting the names of children who have been murdered?

We speak to RTÉ reporter Órla O’Donnell and Fianna Fáil TD Jim O’Callaghan.

THERE ARE NUMEROUS concerns for court reporters – among them ensuring they stick to the law around reporting cases involving children.

This autumn, an issue emerged around this when a decision by the Court of Appeal changed certain long-standing practices related to how the media reports on child murders.

In October, it was found that Section 252 of the Children’s Act 2001 has a much broader application than thought. The judge ruled that the reporting restrictions around naming children where an offence has been made against them, or where they are a witness, also apply in circumstances where the child is deceased or has turned 18.

The act does not differentiate between children who are deceased and those who are alive, which meant that child victims of murder or manslaughter cannot be named. This instantly threw up issues around some high-profile cases.

The situation has also meant that adults who were in child survivors of abuse – and whose cases went through the courts – are also unable to be named. 

For example, earlier this week, a survivor appeared on RTÉ Radio 1’s Today with Claire Byrne programme to tell her story, but could not be referred to by her own name.

On this week’s podcast, RTÉ legal correspondent Órla O’Donnell joins us to explain the background to this situation and what it means for court reporters.

We’re also joined by Fianna Fáil TD Jim O’Callaghan, who has tabled amendments to the Children’s Act. 

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 This episode was put together by presenter Sinéad O’Carroll, producers Aoife Barry and Nicky Ryan. Guest was Hilary Hogan. A big thanks to Christine Bohan, Deputy Editor and our former executive producer who has stepped away from the podcast to concentrate on her work on our debunking and FactCheck projects. 

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