Kathleen Chada, who had not been able to speak publicly since last year about her two sons Eoghan and Ruairí who were murdered by their father, has welcomed the change to Section 252 of the Children’s Act.
Her former husband Sanjeev Chada was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2014 after driving his sons, Eoghan (10) and Ruairí (five), to Co Mayo before strangling them in late July 2013.
Ms Chada told RTÉ News at One that “for want of a better word” she was happy about the change, but it was a bittersweet day.
It had been frustrating that she had not been able to speak about her sons, but she was happy that her boys were part of the change and the reason why this change had come about.
“I was silenced,” she said, as she also could not be identified as that would have led to Eoghan and Ruairí being identified.
Ms Chada said she had been lucky to be able to speak out over the last few years, that she had been able to show the world her sons’ faces and to talk openly about her grief and her experience of the justice system.
To have that “suddenly taken away based on something completely unrelated to me” had been upsetting. She had been effectively “gagged”.
It had been frustrating that the change had to happen, she said as she felt that Section 252 provided good protection for children but it had not made a distinction between children who were alive and those who were dead.
“In my view it was a mistake.”
Child victims of homicide can be named publicly from Friday onwards, following legislation signed into law last week.
A total bar on naming children who have been the subject of court cases came into effect last October following a Court of Appeal ruling which imposed a strict reading of the section of the Children Act, 2001 relating to child anonymity.
Until then, it was widely accepted the Act allowed child victims of homicide to be named publicly, while strictly prohibiting the naming of living children who are witnesses, defendants or complainants in court cases.
The Court of Appeal ruled that Section 252 of the Act applied to both living and dead children.
This resulted in parents of murdered children not being able to talk about their children publicly without fear of breaking the law. It also meant child victims of high-profile murders or alleged murders suddenly could not be named in the media.
Minister for Justice Helen McEntee took up a Bill introduced in the Seanad by Independent Senator Michael McDowell and supported in the Dáil by Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Jim O’Callaghan, to amend the Children Act.
The Children (Amendment) Act 2021 passed with cross-party support and was signed into law last week by President Michael D Higgins.