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Friday 19th of July 2019

Press Room

‘Improving Juvenile Justice Systems in Europe’ project: Two National Discussion Days on Juvenile Justice held in Ireland

Thursday 3rd of November 2016
IJJO Day by Day

Between May and September 2016, the Child Law Clinic, School of Law at University College Cork, held two National Discussion Days on juvenile justice, bringing together approximately 100 high-level stakeholders and practitioners working with and for children in conflict with the law in Ireland.  The aim of these events was to introduce and disseminate a training package developed as part of the project “Improving juvenile justice systems in Europe: Training for professionals”, led by the IJJO.


The Child Law Clinic, School of Law at University College Cork, is an innovative research initiative which provides student-led research services to lawyers litigating children’s issues.  The Director, Professor Ursula Kilkelly, also leads a research team who are currently working on child-friendly justice, child rights advocacy and children’s participation.

The Child Law Clinic is one of 12 partners in the project “Improving juvenile justice systems in Europe: Training for professionals” which is led by the International Juvenile Justice Observatory and co-funded through the financial support of the Fundamental Rights & Citizenship Programme of the European Union.  The aims of this project are to promote the further implementation of the international and European standards relating to children in conflict with the law and to address the identified gaps in the availability of training on child-friendly justice and communication skills for professionals working in juvenile justice systems across Europe. 

To achieve these aims, a training package (manual and toolkit) has been drafted by a group of experts on juvenile justice and children’s rights and is being piloted in the partner countries.  An online training course will also be developed by the International Juvenile Justice Observatory following the conclusion of this project.   

On 10 May 2016, more than 50 high-level stakeholders from the juvenile justice sector in Ireland gathered together in the Law Society, Blackhall Place, Dublin, to discuss this project and start the process of forming a national network of experts to promote child-friendly justice.  The opening address was delivered by the President of the District Court, Her Honour Judge Rosemary Horgan, followed by presentations from Naomi Kennan, Dr Angela O’Connell and Professor Ursula Kilkelly of the School of Law, University College Cork.  Inspector Nuala Finn from the Garda Youth Diversion Office and Fidelma Guinan, Joanna Seery and Ciara O’Driscoill from EPIC (an NGO working with young people in detention) also presented on the day. 

The afternoon session was devoted to a workshop where groups discussed the current training provided to professionals working with and for children in conflict with the law and possible solutions to address the existing gaps, including through the dissemination of the training package.  The day concluded with agreement among all present about the desirability of establishing a network of experts on juvenile justice to progress the work started at this important event.

As a follow-up to this event, a second National Discussion and Training Day on juvenile justice was organised by the Clinic to introduce the training package to frontline professionals from a range of different organisations and agencies, and promote its dissemination among their colleagues and employees. Approximately 50 practitioners working with and for children in conflict with the law gathered together in the Law Society, Blackhall Place, Dublin on 13 September 2016.

Professor Ursula Kilkelly, Naomi Kennan and Dr Angela O’Connell, School of Law, University College Cork delivered presentations and training to the participants in the morning session, followed by expert insights from Gareth Noble, KOD Lyons, Inspector Andy Tuite, the Garda Youth Diversion Office, Emma Hurley, the School of Applied Psychology, University College Cork and The East Cork Music Project and Siobhán O’Dwyer, YAP Ireland.  The afternoon session was devoted to a workshop where groups discussed the training needs of professionals working with and for children in conflict with the law and the relevance of the training package, as well as the main obstacles to the implementation of child-friendly justice in Ireland.

Following these two events, over 80 high-level stakeholders and practitioners have requested to become members of the national coalition group of experts on juvenile justice in Ireland.  The Child Law Clinic will continue to work with the IJJO, the other partner organisations and these professionals to build on this momentum and progress the successful development of this coalition group.

The two National Discussion Days provided the Child Law Clinic with a very valuable opportunity to develop new, and build on existing, connections with high-level stakeholders and practitioners working with and for children in conflict with the law in Ireland.  The events also provided the space to reflect on the operation of the Irish juvenile justice system, highlighting priority areas that need to be addressed to further the protection and implementation of children’s rights.

The Child Law Clinic thanks the IJJO and the European Commission for facilitating and supporting this work, as well as the experts that shared their knowledge during these events.

Co-funded Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Programme of the European Union

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  • International Juvenile Justice Observatory (IJJO). Belgian Public Utility Foundation

    All rights reserved

  • Head Office: Rue Mercelis, nº 50. 1050. Brussels. Belgium

    Phone: 00 32 262 988 90. Fax: 00 32 262 988 99. oijj@oijj.org

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