Page 4315 - Week 14 - Thursday, 24 October 1991

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That is another factor that needs to be considered if we are talking about neglecting children. Where a gang of young boys has been picked up doing something after school, you will often find, among the seven or eight, three or four of them - - -

Mrs Grassby: Time, Bernard.

MR COLLAERY: I do not have a watch, Mrs Grassby. Three or four of them would have wealthy parents, and they would get all the defence in the world. A couple of others would slip through the net and be legally aided. Legal aid is under a massive strain; they give the most effective protection they can. But there is a question of equity in that circumstance. There are matters there for the private profession to consider.

Although I exaggerated earlier and said that I did those things, I was often inclined to do it but I did it only once or twice. Certainly, it was done when the parents had no money and could not afford it. The parents' means is also a matter to consider when you are talking about prosecuting children and parents and whether there is not an advantage in that situation when there is joint behaviour by a bunch of children and some of them can well afford to work the system and adjourn matters endlessly. Mr Stefaniak nods; he well knows the extent to which the profession sometimes gets in the way of these hearings that should be dealt with shortly, sharply, with reprimands and admonishments; the child is brought into a process of defence, adversity and pretty good gamesmanship. That is not a good aspect of this prosecuting process. I have said that to ameliorate, in some way, Mr Stefaniak's hurt at losing this proposed new clause.

Proposed new clause negatived.

Remainder of Bill, by leave, taken as a whole, and agreed to.

Bill, as amended, agreed to.


Consideration resumed from 12 September 1991, on motion by Mr Connolly:

That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Leave granted to dispense with the detail stage.

Bill agreed to.

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