Protocol Between Northern Ireland and Ireland for Handling Inter-Jurisdictional Child Cases

Date published: 09 February 2012

Last updated: 28 July 2021

Child cases which have an inter-jurisdictional or cross-border complexity must be handled in compliance with international and domestic law.  A Protocol for handling such cases has been in place between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland since 2011.


The Protocol has been reviewed and updated for a number of reasons:

  • to include the legislation which underpins the Protocol and to provide clarity on its applicability following UK withdrawal from the EU and the end of the UK Transition Period;
  • to update the section on cross-border child placements;
  • to include a section on cases relating to children who have gone missing; and
  • to update references to more recent policy and procedure documents in both jurisdictions.

The updated Protocol is now in effect superseding the 2011 version (‘Inter-Jurisdictional Protocol for Transfer of Children’s Social Care Cases between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland November 2011’).  It should be read and operated in conjunction with the international and domestic legislation, policies, procedures and guidance.

The Protocol provides a framework to assist relevant social work authorities in Northern Ireland and Ireland to manage and fulfil their respective responsibilities.  Its purpose is to assist them to implement procedures in the best interests of children and families who are assessed as vulnerable and have, or may have, moved across the border, or who are to be placed in the other jurisdiction.

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