Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has announced that the government intends to amend the in camera rule to allow media reporting on family law and child care cases. At present the media and all other non-parties are excluded from court.
On balance, I welcome this. The complete ban on reporting what goes on in family cases is not good for the administration of justice and for public confidence in the legal system. For the most part, it will show that the conspiracy theories of the likes of John Waters, that the family law system is institutionally anti-men, is baseless. On the other hand, it will help to keep some judges on the straight and narrow.The legislation will amend the in camera rule to allow press access to the courts in family law and child care proceedings. They will be subject to a strict prohibition on the publication of any material which would lead to the identification of the people involved, and care will be taken to ensure that the best interests of children are protected.
However, it's not without risks. I don't think there's a real danger in Dublin or Cork of being able to identify parties through the reporting of what goes on in Cork. However, in rural areas there are relatively few family and child care cases every year, and it certainly would seem more likely that nosy neighbours would be able to guess the identity of some of the parties referred to in the media. Overall though I think this is a price worth paying.
Reporting to be allowed on family law and child care court cases