Skip to main content

Trinity College Dublin, The University of Dublin

Trinity Menu Trinity Search

Professional Negligence Litigation: School of Law, Trinity College Dublin

The Children's Rights Referendum


Date: Thursday, 1 November 2012

Venue: Emmet Theatre, Arts Building, Trinity College Dublin

About the Conference

The Government's proposal to amend the Constitution to protect children's rights comes after 15 years of discussion and debate. The amendment proposal has been broadly though not uniformly welcomed. Nevertheless, there remains considerable disagreement about what the various proposals will achieve. Some people have argued that the proposal will allow for too much interference in how parents make decisions for their children. Others have argued that the proposal does not go far enough in this regard. In particular, some have argued that the proposals mark a step back from earlier proposals for constitutional reform in this area. This conference will provide a legal analysis of the reform proposals.

The speakers, experts in constitutional law and child law, will address the following issues:

  • What is meant by the imprescriptible rights of the child?
  • How will adoption and child care law be affected?
  • How is the threshold for state intervention in family decisions altered?
  • What is meant by "best interests" of a child?
  • How does this reform proposal differ from earlier proposals?

The conference will be of interest to lawyers who want to know how the law may change and to all who are considering how to vote in the referendum.

Programme and Speakers


6:10 pm

Structure of Article 42A, imprescriptible rights and the voluntary adoption of marital children

Gerry Whyte is a Professor of Law and Fellow at Trinity College Dublin. His research interests include Irish constitutional law and he is the co-author, with Mr. Justice Gerard Hogan, of Kelly's The Irish Constitution.



When and how the State can intervene: general principles

Dr. Oran Doyle LL.B, LL.M (Harv), Ph.D., F.T.C.D. lectures Constitutional Law I and Jurisprudence on the LL.B. programme and has previously lectured Contemporary Problems in Irish Constitutional law on the LL.M. programme. His principal areas of interest are jurisprudence, constitutional law and constitutional theory. He is a founding member of the Irish Jurisprudence Society and convenes the constitutional law and policy group within the Law School. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the International Academy for the Study of the Jurisprudence of the Family. He was elected a Fellow of Trinity College in 2010. He is the author of Constitutional Equality Law and Constitutional Law: Text, Cases and Materials.  



The contested nature of a best interests test

Andrea Mulligan is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin, Harvard Law School and the King's Inns. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. under the supervision of Professor William Binchy focusing on the regulation of reproductive technologies in Ireland. Andrea has lectured on Public Interest Law, Legal Skills, and Medical Law, and currently lectures on Law and Bioethics.



Tea/Coffee Break



Proceedings to which the best interests test does and does not apply: practical implications

Patricia Brazil
LL.B., M.Litt, Barrister-at-Law is the Averil Deverell lecturer in law at Trinity College Dublin where she lectures Family law, Child law and Refugee and Immigration law. Patricia has also practised as a barrister since 2004, specialising in the areas of asylum and immigration law and child law, in particular childcare proceedings. A full-time researcher with the Law Reform Commission for a number of years, she has carried out extensive teaching and lecturing at Trinity College prior to her appointment as Averil Deverell Lecturer in Law in 2007. Her research interests include immigration and asylum law, family and child law and she has extensive publications in these areas.



The current proposal contrasted with previous proposals

David Kenny is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin, Harvard Law School and the Honourable Society of the King’s Inns. He is an Assistant Professor of Law in the Law School, and lectures in Constitutional Law.


8:35 to 9:00pm Questions and Discussion

The right to substitute and rearrange lecture(rs)s is reserved.


Reservations and Fees

The Children’s Rights Referendum

120 euro per person

CPD Members Rates: 95 euro for 1,
170 euro for 2, 240 euro for 3, 300 euro for 4 and 350 euro for 5

Reduced Rate for Barristers of less than 5 years’ standing or trainee solicitors : 110 euro

Fees inclusive of tea/coffee and lecture materials

All Cheques should be made payable to TCD No. 1 Account and returned to the address below

Please complete the booking form and return to:

CPD Conference Programmes, School of Law,
House 39, Trinity College, Dublin 2

Conference Reservations: Telephone Soraya or Catherine at +353 1 896 2772 / +353 1 896 2367;
Fax Number: (01) 677 0449; Email: