A mother, whose 11-year old son was murdered in the south west of the country, has made an emotional appeal to the Justice Minister to fast-track plans to overturn a legal ban preventing the identification of children who have died as a result of a criminal offence.
The mother, who cannot be named because of the “hurtful” ban, said she wanted to be able to identify her son publicly, so his memory would “not be forgotten”.
The accused, who has pleaded guilty to the boy’s murder, is due before the central Criminal Court today, when it is expected he will be sentenced to the mandatory term of life imprisonment.
She also argued her son’s killer should be identified, “to be shown for what he did”.
" He is a child murderer, and people need to know that.”
The ban on identifying child victims came into force last October when the Court of Criminal Appeal ruled that Section 252 of the Children’s Act applies even after a child has died.
“I don’t think there is any benefit to (son’s name) from it. I think it is more beneficial to (the accused’s name). We are not allowed speak publicly about (son’s name) – it’s like his identity is just gone and brushed under the table,” said the mother. “We can’t talk about him and live on his legacy and his memory, and it’s very painful. It’s like everything is against the victims and everything is going in favour of the man that did this to (son’s name). It just seems very unfair.
“It’s like (my son) didn’t exist,” she said.
Calling on Justice Minster Helen McEntee to overturn the ban, she said: “I’m proud of (son’s name). I want to be able to speak about him, I want to be able to tell the world about him. “He had so many good qualities. He was so funny, a messer, always happy. In school he was the teacher’s pet. H e was a loveable little rogue, and he loved all sport, boxing, soccer, jogging, and animals and nature. I don’t want him to be forgotten,” she said.
Prior to the enforcement of the ban, the mother received much-needed support from another parent whose children had died in similar circumstances and whose story had been highlighted in the media.
However, she fears this type of peer support from other parents is being jeopardised by the ban. “I could contact this other mother and ask her for advice, and she understood what I was going through. I thought I was going mad but she was able to help me understand what I was thinking and feeling was actually normal. She could identify with a lot of it,” she said.
“The fact now that we can’t be identified and that our children can’t be identified, is putting a stop to all that for others, perhaps.”
A spokesman for the Justice Minister said she has been canvassing legal advices on “how best to resolve the issues arising from the decision of the Court of Appeal”.
“Detailed discussions are ongoing on how this can be done as quickly as possible,” said the spokesman.