Since July 2016, two of the island of Ireland’s foremost children’s organisations, the Children’s Law Centre (CLC) and the Children’s Rights Alliance (the Alliance), have been working in partnership to minimise any potential negative impact of Brexit on the rights of children and young people. Throughout the withdrawal process, these organisations have focused on calling for children’s voices to be heard in negotiations, for there to be no roll-back on existing rights, and for recognition of the importance of the Good Friday Agreement.
In order to underpin this work, more detailed research on the potential legal implications of Brexit for children in both jurisdictions was considered necessary to progress their work.
Partnering with The PILS Project in Northern Ireland, PILA brought together a team of lawyers from A&L Goodbody in Dublin and Belfast to undertake a mapping of some of the key implications of Brexit for children as they relate to children’s lives and vital children’s rights issues in Ireland.
The pro bono team provided an analysis of what protections exist through EU legislation, policy, practice and funding in identified areas in order to assist CLC and the Alliance in their advocacy. The result was an extensive report which set out a number of priority issues for children and young people, and outlined potentially unforeseen consequences particularly in the areas of health, child protection and education.
“Given the cross border nature of the work and the fact that we are a small team operating in only one of the jurisdictions involved, we did not have the in-house legal capacity to complete this challenging piece of work and produce a detailed report to inform our work on Brexit”, according to Saoirse Brady, Legal and Policy Director with the Alliance. Ms. Brady found, “it was great to have PILA and PILS coordinate the piece of work as this greatly reduced the amount of time we would have had to oversee the process.”
Paddy Kelly, Director of CLC, emphasised that “the impact of Brexit will be extensive, including in respect of how it will impact on the Good Friday Agreement and the Common Travel Area and therefore on children’s rights. The mapping of these legal implications is complex and challenging. To have this pro bono support from A&L Goodbody, which is a highly respected and well known international firm operating in both jurisdictions, was a significant valuable resource to those trying to mitigate any adverse impact of Brexit on children’s lives and children’s rights.”
The report was presented to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone in Belfast in December and, in this way, it “added value by informing the Government’s understanding on how Brexit might impact on children’s rights”, said Ms. Brady. It has also been provided to the EU Commission’s Task Force 50 and UK Parliamentarians engaged in the Withdrawal Bill legislative process to help inform both the Withdrawal Bill and the Withdrawal Agreement in relation to the interface between children’s rights and Brexit.
Click here for A&L Goodbody’s report ‘Selected legal aspects of the impact of Brexit on the rights of children across the island of Ireland.’