Northern/Irish Feminist Judgments: First Workshop 'The Foreign Subject'

NIFJPWe are delighted to welcome back Ruth Houghton, a Graduate Teaching Assistant and Ph.D. candidate at Durham Law School who has previously written for us here and here. Ruth is also a commentator on the Northern/Irish Feminist Judgments Project. The post was published on Inherently Human.

The Project

As has been previously mentioned on this blog, the  Northern/Irish Feminist Judgments Project (@irishfjp) is led by Aoife O’Donoghue (Durham Law School), Julie McCandless (LSE Law) and Máiréad Enright (Kent Law School). A feminist judgments project writes the ‘missing feminist judgment’; it takes original decisions and rewrites them from a feminist perspective. Abiding to the strictures of precedent and custom that judges adhere to, the feminist judge shows how the law could have been interpreted or applied differently. This particular project builds on the work of the Canadian, Australian and English feminist judgments projects, and focuses specifically on the creation of identity in Ireland and Northern Ireland. The project will explore both jurisdictions, rewriting cases from both the Irish and Northern Irish courts. The Northern/Irish Feminist Judgments project explores the building of communities and the importance of diaspora for Irish identity as well as creating a space to explore the ways that Northern Irish and Irish identities have ‘affected, and defined themselves in relation to one another over time’.

First Drafting Workshop

On the 23rd October 2014, in Ulster University, five feminist judges presented their draft judgments to an interdisciplinary audience. The judges were free to choose the cases that they wanted to rewrite from a feminist perspective, which meant that there was a broad range of issues covered. From Irish constitutional law to vicarious liability for child sexual abuse, from employment law to public appointments and police powers and duties, these cases raised questions about community, identity, harm and the limitations of the legal systems.  The cases that were discussed at this workshop were; In re White (Judge: Catherine O’Rourke), McGimpsey v Ireland (Judge: Aoife O’Donoghue), In re E (Judge: Colin Murray), O’Keefe v Hickey (Judge: Maeve O’Rourke) and Flynn v Power (Judge: Eoin Daly).

Interspersed between the cases, were panels from scholars and activists from a variety of disciplines. The project aims to engage with the particular social, political and sectarian context and so issues of religion, sexuality and abortion were discussed during the two-day’ workshop. Photographer and filmmaker Emma Campbell (@frecklescorp) shared her video, When they put their hands out like scales, which includes the words from the Hansard debate on abortion in the Northern Ireland Assembly on 20th June 2000. Listening to words from the debate highlighted the prevalence of religion within the political debate on abortion. The images of walkways, paths and finally images of the docks were used to demonstrate the journeys women in Ireland have to take to seek an abortion and ultimately the denied statehood of these women. The extent to which abortion effects the construction or deconstruction of women’s identities was highlighted in the short-film as an actor read aloud Mrs Carson’s statement from the debate in the Assembly, ‘they should not be made to feel like criminals having to hide their identities. Nor should they be ostracised by society.’ Leanne McCormick demonstrated the role of female sexuality in the creation of women’s identities. She displayed images from ‘douching’ advertisements and told of how women were represented within trial reports from the early 20th century following accusations of abortions, attempted terminations and infanticide.

The construction of the foreign subject

The theme of the first drafting workshop was the ‘Foreign Subject’. Ex-President of the United States of American, Bill Clinton was noted to have said that ‘the most urgent issue facing the world [is] that of identity’ (quoted by Marianne Elliott). The creation of identities in Ireland and Northern Ireland was the focus of the panels at the first drafting workshop. Scholars from history, sociological, English literature and law came together to discuss the effects of the social, geographical, political and religious contexts on the construction of Irish identities. One element of this identity creation was migration and more broadly, travel and movement. Louise Ryan argued that identity is relational; it is located within particular places and created by the different relations between people. She discussed the effect of migration to England on Irish identity, showing how the perception of Irish people in England effects the way individuals present their Irish-ness.

In particular, the panels were interested in the way more marginalised groups build identities or have identities imposed upon them. Throughout the workshop the term foreign was constantly conceptualised and reconceptualised, stretched and expanded, to include those groups of people who are considered ‘foreign’ because they do not fit within societies expectations. ‘Foreign’ could include migrants, religious identities, LGBT persons, or women. Marianne Elliot noted how the word for foreign and protestant in Irish is the same and Anne Mulhall from University College Dublin spoke on the representation of migrant and LGBT persons in campaign literature.

One of the questions that the project seeks to explore is the role of the judiciary in the creation of identities. In judicial decisions, identities are created and the case law acts as a permeant record of this identity. The McGimpsey v Ireland case is an interesting example of the way litigants are constructed by the courts. The McGimpsey brothers lived in Northern Ireland and were well-known political actors amongst unionist supporters, their political belief was a rejection of Irish jurisdiction over Northern Ireland. They took a case to the courts in the Republic of Ireland challenging the Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985. Even though the brothers rejected Ireland’s territorial claims and unionists in general would have been disliked in the Republic, when the case was in the High Court in the Republic of Ireland, Barrington J described the litigants as being ‘patently sincere and serious people’. Emphasising the brothers’ good standing within the community and their public and civic lives, the court fashioned an ideal litigant. This raises the question whether a housewife could have brought the same case and received the same favourable treatment; a question that Aoife O’Donoghue considered in her feminist rewrite of the Irish Supreme Court judgment.

The interrelationship between questions of community and identity in Northern Ireland and Ireland is strong. The community in Northern Ireland meant Protestant and Catholic or Unionist and Nationalist. Marianne Elliot highlighted how these different community groups had very different oral histories, which are used to crystallise identities. The pervasiveness of this divide is seen by the nature of party politics, which draws a distinction between “unionist”, “nationalist” and “other”. Yet, Myrtle Hill, a historian at Queen’s University Belfast and Monica McWilliams from the Transitional Justice Institute, talked about and shared experiences of the women’s movement in Northern Ireland in the 1970s. They noted how the movement distanced itself from the political-party lines that were drawn and engaged in cross-community activism. More recently, the Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition created in 1996, also refused to align with one ideology and were designated as “other” within the Irish National Assembly.

Still, a reoccurring trend in the Northern Irish and Irish judgments was the construction of identity along political and sectarian lines, dividing the community into Protestants and Catholics or unionists and nationalists. In re White concerned the appointment of representatives to the Northern Ireland Parades Commission (overseeing the parades or marches that take place in Northern Ireland). Despite the fact that women took part in the parades and were affected by the parades that took place on their streets, in the original decision it was held that ‘representative of the community’ did not include representing women. Similarly, in the case of McGimpsey v Ireland the original judgment talks of majority and minority community (invoking the Protestant majority and the Catholic minority). There is no thought to those people who fell outside of these divides, in particular those people who were excluded by the community: in response to the 1978 draft Homosexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order, the Democratic Unionist Party started a petition to “Save Ulster from Sodomy”.

The feminist judgments in the Northern/Irish Feminist Judgments Project demonstrate how these decisions could have been decided or reasoned differently to improve the place of women and minorities within society. Each judge had a different feminism and so had different methods of creating a feminist judgment. By placing women within the text of the judgment, by focusing on the specific gendered nature of the harm suffered, by telling the stories of the women involved or in the cases of In re White and McGimpsey v Ireland by reconceptualising ‘community’, the Northern/Irish Feminist Judgments Project is able to critique the original decisions. The Irish feminist judges are now challenging judicial decisions that had a negative effect on women and minority groups.

The Northern/Irish Feminist Judgments Project has been assisted by research from Zoe Carter and Eleanne Hussey (LSE) and Ellen Jepson from Gender and Law at DurhamThank you to the University of Ulster, Transitional Justice Institute and Law School for hosting and supporting the first workshop.

Northern/Irish Feminist Judgments: First Workshop 'The Foreign Subject'

Conference: Law in Action Re-Imagining Clinical Legal Education In Ireland

UCDOn Friday, 13th June 2014 from 10am to 5pm, UCD Sutherland School of Law will host a conference Law in Action Re-Imagining Clinical Legal Education In Ireland.  Organised  jointly between UCD School of Law,  the Public Interest Law Alliance, University of Ulster Law Clinic and the Irish Clinical Legal Education Association, the full programme with an exciting line up of international, European and national experts in legal education, clinical legal education, public interest law and litigation and the interaction of law and social justice is available here.  There is no registration fee, and those interested in attending the conference can register here (CPD Points Available).

This conference invites speakers and participants to consider some of the following issues: Continue reading “Conference: Law in Action Re-Imagining Clinical Legal Education In Ireland”

Conference: Law in Action Re-Imagining Clinical Legal Education In Ireland

Access to Justice Scholarship for LLM Clinical Legal Education at University of Ulster

University of UlsterGrainne McKeever is the Research Co-ordinator for Law and a lecturer on University of Ulster‘s LLM Clinical Legal Education. 

A second call for applications for the LLM Clinical Legal Education in University of Ulster is now being issued. Students on this course are responsible for managing the Ulster Law Clinic, providing free information, advice and representation to individuals on social security and employment law.  An Access to Justice Scholarship of £5,000, funded by the Department of Justice in Northern Ireland, has been provided to assist a meritorious candidate in the payment of fees thereby enabling him/her to take up a place on the LLM Clinical Legal Education. Applicants are required to submit their LLM application online to www.ulster.ac.uk/applyonline by 30 August 2013 and applicants who meet the eligibility criteria will be invited to attend for an interview at the University’s Belfast campus on 3 September 2013. All candidates who are offered a place on the LLM Clinical Legal Education for September 2013 will be invited to apply for the Access to Justice Scholarship. Scholarships will be awarded on the basis of evaluation by the LLM and Clinic Director, in consultation with the Law School’s Director of Research and Innovation, and the Scholarship criteria will be made available to applicants in advance. Further details on the LLM Clinical Legal Education are available from the University of Ulster website here. Fees for 2013/4 are £5,385 for full time students and £29.95 per credit point for part time students.

For more information on the Ulster Law Clinic see the 2012-2013 Annual Report for the LLM Clinical Legal Education,  available here.

Access to Justice Scholarship for LLM Clinical Legal Education at University of Ulster

Introducing the LLM in Gender, Conflict and Human Rights

Human Rights in Ireland is please to welcome this guest post from Dr Catherine O’Rourke, Transitional Justice Institute, School of Law, University of Ulster.

The Transitional Justice Institute (TJI), University of Ulster, is pleased to announce the launch its innovative new masters programme, LLM Gender, Conflict and Human Rights. The new programme builds on both the highly successful existing LLM Human Rights Law and Transitional Justice, and the TJI’s international research profile in gender and transitional justice, to offer this unique masters programme. Teaching will be delivered by established scholars in the field, including Professor Fionnuala Ni Aolain, Professor Monica McWilliams, Dr Catherine O’Rourke, and Dr Khanyisela Moyo. Students will study two core modules of Gender and Human Rights and Gender and Transition, as well as select from a range of optional modules, which include Foundations of International Human Rights Law, Foundations of Transitional Justice, International Criminal Justice, Equality Law, Critical Perspectives on Human Rights, Policing and Human Rights. In addition, students will be supervised in the completion of a dissertation.

For those interested in learning more about the programme, the TJI will be hosting a ‘taster’ day on Friday, June 22 to meet the staff and to learn more about the content of the programme. The day will include an introduction to the ideas and issues of gender, conflict and human rights that will be explored in the masters programme. The format of the day will be interactive, with participants taking part in a range of exercises, allowing potential applicants to experience the student-centred and collaborative approach to learning on the masters programme.

Potential applicants who are unable to attend the ‘taster’ content, but are interested in  learning more about the programme, are welcome to join us for the drop-in information session and sandwich lunch on the same day from 1-2pm.

For further information on the taster day, including schedule, see here.  Those interesting in attending should RSVP to Elaine McCoubrey: e.mccoubrey@ulster.ac.uk.

Introducing the LLM in Gender, Conflict and Human Rights

TJI Summer School: Gender, Conflict and UN Security Council Resolution 1325

The Transitional Justice Institute (TJI) is hosting its 5th annual Summer School on Transitional Justice on the theme of: Gender, Conflict and UN Security Council Resolution 1325. The Summer School will be held from 25-29 June 2012 at the Jordanstown campus of the University of Ulster, located on the north shore of Belfast Lough, Northern Ireland. The Summer School is a week-long residential course, consisting of a series of interactive lectures, workshops and roundtable discussions.  It is aimed at both postgraduate students and practitioners working in the field of transitional justice and human rights.

This year the summer school will give a broad and comprehensive overview to the regulation of women’s rights and needs in conflict and post-conflict situations.  Given the recent ten year anniversary of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, a particular focus of the summer school will be on the creation, enforcement, and capacity of UNSC 1325 and other related United Nations Security Council resolutions to addressed the needs, exclusions and rights of women in conflict and post-conflict settings.

The academic faculty for the TJI Summer School includes experts on issues of gender and conflict Continue reading “TJI Summer School: Gender, Conflict and UN Security Council Resolution 1325”

TJI Summer School: Gender, Conflict and UN Security Council Resolution 1325

TJI Annual Lecture: Some Humanitarian Perspectives on Transition

The Transitional Justice Institute (TJI) will be holding its 2011 Annual Lecture on April 14th 2011.  The guest speaker is Mr. Geoff Loane, who is the Head of UK Mission, International Committee of the Red Cross. Mr. Loane will speak on the topic Humanitarian Perspectives on Transition.  This annual lecture will take place on April 14th 2011, 5.30 pm to 7 p.m. in the Conor Lecture Theatre, University of Ulster (Belfast Campus).

Everyone is welcome to attend this event. Please RSVP: Elaine McCoubrey (e.mccoubrey@ulster.ac.uk) or telephone (+44) (0)28 9036 6202.

TJI Annual Lecture: Some Humanitarian Perspectives on Transition

Transitional Justice Institute: Summer Schools on Gender and Public Inquiries

The Transitional Justice Institute, School of Law, University of Ulster has released details of its summer schools for 2011. This year the TJI will be running two different subject sections for its 2011 summer school on Gender, Conflict and Transition and Holding the State to Account: The Role of Public Inquiries.

The TJI Summer School on Transitional Justice will take place from 13 to 17 June 2011 at the University of Ulster’s Magee campus in Derry/Londonderry. The Summer School provides a dynamic context for the exchange of views and experiences between academics, practitioners and students. It is a week long residential course, consisting of a series of interactive lectures, workshops and roundtable discussions on key aspects of transitional justice.

The academic component of the Summer School is also complemented by a social programme which provides the opportunity for participants to get to know a little about the local area. Social events include a walking tour of Derry city, film screenings and a Summer School dinner.

Gender, Conflict and Transition

Participants will be provided with an introduction on gender and transitional justice, before examining some key issues relating to gender, conflict and societies Continue reading “Transitional Justice Institute: Summer Schools on Gender and Public Inquiries”

Transitional Justice Institute: Summer Schools on Gender and Public Inquiries

Funded PhD position in School of Law/Transitional Justice Institute, University of Ulster

Applications are invited for a Department of Employment and Learning (NI) funded PhD studentship tenable in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the  Magee / Jordanstown Campus.

Candidates should have ordinary UK residence to be eligible for both fees and maintenance.  Non UK residents who hold ordinary EU residence may also apply but if successful will receive fees only.  All applicants should hold a first or upper second class honours degree in law, politics or a cognate area.  Successful candidates will enrol as of September 2010, on a full-time programme of research studies leading to the award of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.

The studentship will comprise fees together with an annual stipend of £13,590 and will be awarded for a period of up to three years subject to satisfactory progress. 

The closing date for receipt of completed applications is September 10th, 2010.

Interviews will be held during the week commencing September 27th, 2010.

Further information on this opportunity is available here. Information on potential supervisors can be accessed here.

Funded PhD position in School of Law/Transitional Justice Institute, University of Ulster

Amram on Enforcing Children's Rights through Parental Tort

Human Rights in Ireland is delighted to welcome this guest post from Denise Amram, PhD Candidate at Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna of Pisa and Scientific Collaborator of LIDER Lab (www.lider-lab.eu).

The evolution of tort law within the family has been affected by the understanding of Children’s Convention principles stated in articles 3, 18, 19. In particular, the development of social habits and the recognition of the supremacy of the interest of the child in Family Law legislation has led to the erosion of the immunity rule in family contexts, by which a child was often prohibited from suing the parent in order to preserve a sort of familial harmony. This sort of Immunity rule, which has never been codified in Italy, but which is deeply rooted in  Italian customs, has been introduced in The U.S. in 1891 in the decision Hewellette v. George -68 Miss. 703, 9 So. 885 (1895)- and aimed to preserve harmony in familial context. Continue reading “Amram on Enforcing Children's Rights through Parental Tort”

Amram on Enforcing Children's Rights through Parental Tort

The Convention on the Rights of the Child at 21: International Conference in University of Ulster

The School of Law, University of Ulster (Magee) in Londonderry/Derry is hosting an international conference on the Convention on the Rights of the Child at 21. A mix of academics, practitioners, social workers and researchers will present papers on issues such as cultural relativism and children’s rights, concepts of social kinship and law, migrant children, the best interests principle and child protection.  Over the coming days, Human Rights in Ireland will be hosting a mini-blogference, providing its readership with an opportunity to explore some of the key themes which have emerged over the course of the conference.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child at 21: International Conference in University of Ulster