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Evelyn: Changing The Law In Ireland - DOYLE v IRELAND

DOYLE v IRELAND (Illustration) Civil Rights Film Geography History Social Studies Trials Tragedies and Triumphs Law and Politics

Vulnerable children lived and worked at Ireland's "Industrial Schools."  This scene depicts boys at Baltimore Fisheries School (in West Cork) making nets.  Reports of child abuse at the school contributed to its closing in 1950.  Image online, courtesy National Archives of Ireland.  PD

 

We can briefly summarize Des Doyle's case against the Irish government as follows:

  • That Constitution, in Article 41, recognizes the family as the most important "unit group" in the country and requires the Irish government "to protect" families:
    Section 1 (1) - The State recognises the Family as the natural primary and fundamental unit group of society, and as a moral institution possessing inalienable and imprescriptible rights, antecedent and superior to all positive law.
    Section 1 (2) - The State, therefore, guarantees to protect the Family in its constitution and authority, as the necessary basis of social order and as indispensable to the welfare of the Nation and the State.
  • Article 42 gives the family  the right to educate children and provides for individual rights of those children:
    Section 1: The State acknowledges that the primary and natural educator of the child is the Family and guarantees to respect the inalienable right and duty of parents to provide, according to their means, for the religious and moral, intellectual, physical and social education of their children.Section 5: In exceptional cases, where the parents for physical or moral reasons fail in their duty towards their children, the State as guardian of the common good, by appropriate means shall endeavour to supply the place of the parents, but always with due regard for the natural and imprescriptible rights of the child.

If the constitution gives Irish families the right to educate their children, and if those children have committed no crime requiring detention in a state institution, how:

  • Could the Children Act of 1941 legally hand over decision-making power to the Minister of Education?
  • Why should the government have the right to decide whether the Doyle children returned home or remained in industrial schools?
  • And ... why should Charlotte Doyle's consent to her children's release be required at all when it was she who abandoned her family and then left the country?

Those questions were finally answered by the Irish Supreme Court in December of 1955.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5189stories and lessons created

Original Release: Dec 01, 2002

Updated Last Revision: May 02, 2017


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