BY DECLAN VARLEY
Dr Carol Coulter, Director of the Child Care Law Reporting Project (CCLRP ), has been appointed as an honorary Adjunct Professor in the School of Law, NUI Galway.
Dr Coulter graduated from Trinity College with BA and PhD degrees in English, and also holds a Diploma in Legal Studies and an MPhil in Law. She became a journalist and joined The Irish Times in 1986, working as a reporter, acting London Editor, acting Northern Ireland Editor, Deputy News Editor, Legal Affairs Correspondent, Legal Affairs Editor and Assistant Editor.
As Legal Affairs editor she initiated and edited the ‘Law Matters’ page in The Irish Times, as well as writing extensively there on the courts, law, human rights and justice. She won a number of journalism awards, including Campaigning Journalist of the Year in 1990, Legal Print Journalist of the Year in 2000 and 2012, and also overall Legal Journalist of the Year in 2012.
From 2006 to 2007 she took leave of absence from The Irish Times to run a pilot project on private family law for the Courts Service, initiating the publication of reports on family law proceedings in Ireland. These were published in quarterly magazines, Family Law Matters, from 2007 to 2009 and on the Courts Service website. This pilot project resulted in a Report and Recommendations for the Board of the Courts Service, published in October 2007.
In October 2012, Dr Coulter left The Irish Times to take up a position as Founder and Director of the Child Care Law Reporting Project, which is examining the public child care law system. To date this has published over 300 reports of child care cases in the District Court and High Court, and two Interim Reports, including statistics and analysis, on its website, www.childlawproject.ie A third and Final Report, with recommendations, was published in November 2015.
Dr Coulter has lectured extensively in the cultural, social and legal areas, both in Ireland and internationally, including in the UK, the US and Japan, and has also published a wide range of essays and books in these areas. From 1992 to 2004 she edited the Undercurrents pamphlet series for Cork University Press.
The Child Care Law Reporting Project, directed by Dr Carol Coulter, is now in Phase 2 following the publication of the Final Report from Phase 1 in November 2015. This phase will combine reporting on a reduced number of cases with an in-depth analysis of a number of highly complex and lengthy cases. It is funded jointly by Galway University Foundation and the Department of Children & Youth Affairs for two years. A formal Memorandum of Understanding has been agreed to guide the implementation of the Phase 2 project. The partners in this Agreement are: The Child Care Law Reporting Project, NUI Galway School of Law, Galway University Foundation, The Atlantic Philanthropies, Tusla, Free Legal Advice Centres and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.
The Agreement provides for the establishment of a Research Coordinating Group, which includes the Head of the School of Law, Professor Donncha O’Connell, which will guide the development of the research programme and assist in identifying ways of implementing the recommendations that arise from the project within the two years.
Galway University Foundation has negotiated with Atlantic Philanthropies to provide €70,000 in funding for the project and has a separate agreement in place with FLAC, which provides technical and administrative assistance to the CCLRP, for the management of these funds on behalf of the project.
As well as participating in the Research Coordinating Group, NUI Galway will assist the project through a separate Galway University Foundation-funded Hardiman Scholarship to the School of Law. The scholarship, awarded to the School of Law and linked to the CCLRP, is for a PhD to be supervised jointly by Dr Connie Healy and Dr Carol Coulter. The PhD will look at international best practice examples of Child Protection systems that successfully address the needs of vulnerable children coming before the child protection courts. The aim will be to complement and add significant value to the research arising from Phase 2 of the Child Care Law Reporting Project. The Scholarship has been awarded to Maria Corbett who has worked with the Children’s Rights Alliance for many years.
Announcing the appointment, Professor Donncha O’Connell, Head of the School of Law at NUI Galway, said: “Our association with Carol Coulter is very exciting and speaks directly and unapologetically to the kind of societal impact that NUI Galway’s School of Law at NUI Galway aims to achieve. Through her involvement as a doctoral co-supervisor and as a public figure of considerable standing we hope to pursue with her valuable and exciting projects in the years ahead.”
In accepting the appointment, Dr Coulter said: “I am delighted to be associated with NUI Galway’s School of Law which has a well-deserved reputation for teaching and scholarship in public interest law and human rights, of which children’s rights are an important part. I look forward to working with Professor O’Connell, Dr Healy and Maria in further developing this area of law and generally contributing to the work and public profile of the School.”