In and the second is that they provide their

In Ireland the Child Care Act 1991 is the main legislation involved in the care of children. This act specifies that a guardian ad litem (GAL) is appointed where the court believes that it is of the best interest of the child and the justice system (DYCA, 2015). A GAL is an independent person in some cases a social work whose main role is to ensure that the child’s wishes are expressed in court. Most appointments are initiated by Tulsa where a child has been taken into care. In some cases parents are involved in the initiation of the appointment (Ombudsman, 2012)Roles and responsibilities of GALThe Childcare act does not provide any guidelines on the criteria for eligibility of potential GAL’s and in their role. Their function was decided on by Justice Mc Menamin based on a special care case in 2007 HSE v K (a minor). He summarised the role of the GAL as follows;Their function is two-fold, first is to ensure that the child’s views are listened and the second is that they provide their views to the court take into consideration, in the best interest of the child. They should also bring attention to cases where they may be risks involved that would affect the best interests of the child. They also need to make sure that at all time that the case is in compliance with the constitutional rights of the child. They may also provide dual functions such as reporting to the court with regards the child care as well as representing the child in court (Auditor General, 2015).The appointed guardian litem is required to meet the child as much as possible as well as meeting with various stake holders involved to get their views in the care plan of the child.They need to work in conjunction with Tusla to ensure that their views of the welfare of the child are expressed at each case meeting.At each court preceding any issues that may arise with regards the care plan are escalated by the GAL. In the case where a child is being discharged from secure care the GAL must express their opinion with regards the plan in place for them and also their role following the discharge of the child. In the case where there are differences of opinion between the GAL and Tusla, they must first try to resolve the issue but where a resolution cannot be found between them, the GAL is required to escalate their concerns to the court. Where a child has run away from the secure care the GAL must ensure that the procedure being taken to address the issue is sufficient and if not it needs to be escalated to the courts (Auditor General, 2015).Reform of the role of the GALIn recent years this legislation has been under scrutiny because this legislation does not take into consideration the conditions of appointment and it is at the judge’s discretion whether they are appointed or not. There is also an issue with availability of them in various parts of the country which means there is also a geographical injustice. The requirement to amend the legislation is related to the passing of the children’s referendum which takes into consideration the views of the child (Irish Times, 2017). There is a major reform at the moment in the appointment and how the GAL’s perform their function. The reform states that the GAL will have two main functions, firstly to ensure that the views of the child are heard in court cases and secondly to provide advice to the court with their professional opinion on what needs to be done in the best interests of the child (DYCA, 2017).The GAL todayThe role of the GAL has evolved in the last 10 years where their duty now is to represent areas that are potentially in conflict. They meet many hurdles on their way such as infants which cannot express their views as well as dealing with children who have disabilities which may impair their expression of views. Their role is a balancing act between wishes, feelings and interests. The GAL needs to be aware of the child’s wishes and feelings as well as completing an assessment of their interests. The GAL needs to identify is there is conflict of interest and take it into consideration when making their recommendations. Examples of conflict in these situations include children involved in marital conflict where they play one against the other, where children are happy with a relative foster but still wants to return home to a parent that have drug or alcohol problems (Legal Aid Board, 2013).The GAL may also struggle in situations where a child wishes to return to unsafe conditions. They have to delicately investigate the child’s issue to identify how the child feels, by doing this the GAL may help the child to understands the concerns of others. By doing this the GAL will introduce the child’s perspective into the process. Some may say that a social worker could do this however the GAL will not encounter any agency constraints. The GAL allows the child to be consulted and involved in their destiny rather than leaving the adults to decide what’s best. In the UK Judith Timmis identified four key components of the work of the GAL which include; Information, Consultation, Advocacy and Representation (Legal Aid Board, 2013).Information, this is where the GAL needs to gather all the information on the background and situation of the child which involves reading case files and reports. They must also explain to the child the process of court proceeding and the functions both themselves and other professionals play in their case. Consultation, this is where the GAL must meet with the child to identify their wishes and feelings. They must also meet and consult with the child’s stakeholders to assess the child’s situation. Advocacy is where the GAL is involved in ensuring and promoting the welfare of the child at case conferences and in courts. They also must assess the care plan to ensure that their needs are met and supports are in place for children that leave care. Representation is where the GAL attends courts and makes decisions on whether legal representation is required. They are also involved in preparing reports and giving evidence in court proceedings (Barnardos, 2013).When looking at the day in the life of a GAL based in Dublin these components are practised daily. This involves a variety of tasks such as having meetings with all the stakeholders of the child in question. They also have to ensure that there are plans in place for children being discharged from care, to ensure that they can integrate back into their community. In Dublin some GAL’s are dealing with up to 14 families which may involve working with up to 40 children at any one time. All these families may have different requirements such as being involved in the reunification plan to ensure that the parents are able to look after the child as well as being involved in pre-birth child protection cases to ensure that there are plans in place for the arrival of a new baby (Irish Times, 2017).ConclusionResearch has shown that the GAL plays a significant role in the court process and provides major contribution as a facilitator. They also play a vital role in decisions when the child is taken into care. Studies have also shown that the recommendations made by the GAL provide a means of acceptance to what the social worker had already highlighted. It is also important to note that in Ireland that GAL’s have constraints in comparison to the UK as they cannot appoint a legal representative. There are also no rules to govern their roles which mean that the GALs are on their own and have no guidelines to follow. The means that the role of a GAL is subjective which means there can be differences in the way of working hence the welfare of the child is in question (Mc Williams & Hamilton, 2010).Domestic ViolenceDomestic violence can be defined in many ways but all of them have a common theme that “it’s the pattern of physical (such as punching and kicking), emotional (humiliation, controlling every move and name calling) and sexual (such as sexual intercourse) violence which threatens the safety or welfare of family members and certain persons in domestic violence (Courts, 2011). Domestic violence is equally prevalent in both urban and rural areas and it not specified to any particular class of people. It must also be noted that abuse can continue after a relationship in the form of stalking, harassment and in recent years via technology such as text, emails and of course social media (Cope Galway, 2013).Laws relating to Domestic ViolenceThe Family Law (Maintenance of Spouses and Children) 1976 was the first law to introduce remedies for domestic violence which was the “barring order”. It also stated that court proceedings would be held “in camera” which means in private and this encouraged spouses to report incidents of domestic violence. Twenty years later the Domestic Violence Act 1996 was established and was then amended in 1997 by the Family Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) and again amended in 2002 by the Domestic Violence (Amendment) Act (Foley Turnbull, 2015). The Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011 made significant change to the existing law which removed the requirement of the victim to be living with the guilty partner for six of the nine previous months (Family Law HQ 2011). Other laws that pertain to domestic violence are Non-Fatal Offences against the person Act 1997, Criminal Law (Rape) Amendment Act, 1990, Guardianship of infants Act and the Childrens Act 2001 (Safe Ireland, 2015).Prevalence of Domestic ViolenceAccording to a report published by the National Crime Council in 2005, 213,000 women and 88,000 of men in Ireland have experienced domestic abuse. Nine percent of the women and four percent of men has encountered physical abuse while eight percent of women and one percent of males encountering sexual abuse. Seven percent of females and three percent of males have been emotionally bused at some point in their lives. This data indicates that both women and men are affected by domestic abuse (National Crime Council, 2005). In 2015 Safe Ireland a report and stated that thirty one percent of women in Ireland have been abused at some point of their lives. This statistic shows that there is a 300 per cent increase within ten years which is a horrifying figure in today’s world (Safe Ireland, 2015).Barring OrdersThis is where the court makes a ruling the person that is committing the offence is directed to stay away from their homes until the court removes the order. It also prevents them from using or threatening to use violence (Courts, 2011). The applicant must justify to the court that they are in danger before the order is made. The applicant must also have an equal or greater interest in the home as well as living as “husband and wife” for six of the previous nine months.There are four types of people that can apply for a barring order. These are; spouse, cohabitants, a parent of an adult child who is non-dependent and Tusla. Once a summons has ben issued for a barring order the applicant can apply for a protection or interim barring order while waiting for court proceedings. An order can last for 3 years. The Domestic Violence Act, 1996 gave the court power in cases where the barring order is breached. The penalties for breaches may include a fine, imprisonment and is also regarded as a criminal offence. They may also be liable in civil proceedings. When a victim applies for a barring order and the children may be in danger the court can also deal with access and maintenance rights in the proceedings for the order (Family Law HQ, 2011).Interim Barring OrdersThis is a temporary order which can be made by the court as soon as the legal proceedings has commenced while waiting for the court sitting. This type of order is used where the protection order is insufficient in protect an applicant that is at immediate risk.However it has limitation as it will only for eight days which means that the application needs to be heard in court with 8 working days of being granted the order. (Family Law HQ, 2011). This order is “ex parte” which means that the judge can make decisions in the absence of the guilty party (Foley Turnbull, 2015).Protection OrderThis is a temporary safety order which is put in place until the hearing of a safety or barring order takes place. This order does not force the guilty party out of the house, it just prohibits them to use violence or threats against the applicant to put them in fear.(Family HQ, 2011) In cases where the abusive party lives outside the guilty person must not stalk or harass the applicant (Foley Turnbull, 2015).Safety OrderThis order is comparable to protection order and can last for up to five years. Safety orders are used in situations where the applicant may be assisting the abusive party with a problem such as drugs and seeks protection from violence; it can also be used where couples have separated but not legally and the applicant also uses it for protection. The same people can apply for safety orders to that of barring orders (Family Law HQ, 2015)Breaches of Court OrdersUnder the Domestic Violence act 1996 the Gardai has the power to arrest without a warrant where the victim has the ability to apply for a barring or safety order. The act also requires the Gardai to investigate all reports of domestic violence (Family Law HQ, 2015) .Failures in the Legal SystemIn 2015 Safe Ireland published a report “The Lawlessness of the Home” which is based on experiences of females ranging from the age of 30 to 70 from a various locations in Ireland. These are victim who have seeked the legal remedies of domestic violence but disappointingly it has failed them. The have been worn down by the system rather than being supported by the system (Irish Examiner, 2015). It states that these victims are not taken seriously and sometimes the allegations that are made are not followed through. There was also discrimination seen with regards ethnicity, gender, class and educational background. Remedies that are commonly used in these cases go unpunished when they are breached.In some cases it was found that legal representatives ensure that they stay silent in court so that the judged doesn’t get annoyed. It also shows that the remedies are applied differently in courts throughout Ireland. There were 34 recommendations made in this report of which 4 needs to be acted on immediately. These include; establishing civil and criminal law definition, the introduction of risk assessment to ensure that violent behaviour is recognised, introduce restrictions on the reporting of the identity of victims and the removal (Irish Times, 2015).In 2015 the country was shocked with the death of Garda Tony Golden who was a Garda that was dealing with a domestic violence case. The Garda was accompanying a victim to her house to collect her belongings who had just made a complaint about her partner. The victim’s partner shot the Garda multiple times which proved fatal. The woman was also injured (The Journal, 2015). This shows that the domestic violence can lead to the death of innocent people if not dealt with in a timely manner.As previously mentioned males can also be the victim of domestic violence, however again they are not taken seriously by society and in the legal system they face obstacles such as proving that they are a victim as well as ensuring that his children are protected. Most males stay silent and stay in abusive relationship to protect the children because even if they prove they are a victim they have to leave their home which means he is treated as the perpetrator instead of the victim (Amen, 2017). There are no refuges available for male victims which leads to them becoming homeless. Homeless shelters are unsuitable for male victims and their children (The Journal, 2014)The above failures has led to the reformation of our legal system with regards to domestic violence (Irish Time, 2015). In January 2016 the Irish government launched the second national strategy on domestic, sexual and gender based violence 2016 – 2021. Its vision is to make Ireland a safer place by raising awareness to prevent domestic violence as well as helping victims through the process (Cosc, 2016). However the legal system is only one response that we require, the report from Safe Ireland has a mission that their investigation will push for a total transformation to the response of domestic violence. In order to do this we need a radical cultural overhaul legally, politically and socially. The failure of the legal system is worldwide and it is now getting the attention that it requires all over the world (Irish Examiner, 2015)