The right to a name
Your rights under the UNCRC
UNCRC, Article 7: It’s your right to have a name and this should be officially recognised by the government.
UNCRC, Article 8: It’s your right to have an identity – an official record of who you are. No one should take this away from you.
Your rights under Irish law
- Under the Gender Recognition Act 2015, it’s your right to change your gender and your name. Applications can be made on behalf of children over the age of 16 by way of a court order.
-Under the Child Care Act 1991 and the Children Act 2001, it’s your right that your name doesn’t appear in any media if your parents are in court regarding your custody arrangements, or if you are before the courts for criminal reasons. This protects your identity as a child.
- Under the Civil Registration Act 2004, it’s your right that your name and identity be registered within 3 months of your birth.
Did you know?
- There are 1,251,796 children and young people under the age of 18 living in Ireland, according to the 2016 Census.
- A child’s birth certificate records things like the full name of the child, the names of the child’s parents, and where and when a child is born.
- A birth certificate is needed for things like getting a passport and going to school.
- Some social media platforms, like Facebook, have a real name policy as they believe that by using your real name, you are more likely to behave responsibly online.
- There is no legal or other obligation for anyone to change their name after marriage in Ireland. According to the New York Times and from information taken from a Google Consumer Survey in 2015, 20% of women married in recent years have decided to keep their last name, a significant increase over the 14% in the 1980s.
- The surname of a child can be changed in the Register of Births, but only in certain situations.
- The surname of a child can also be changed by deed poll or common usage. Children aged between 14 and 17 years can make use of the Deed Poll themselves, but need the consent of both parents. Where a child is under the age of 14 years, one of the child’s parents must fill out the Deed Poll with the consent of the other parent.
- According to a BBC article, in some countries certain names are banned and parents are not allowed to name their child these particular names, for fear of future embarrassment for the child.
Hear your right – read by Sean McGinnity
Tá sé de cheart agat ainm a bheith agat, agus go ndéanfadh an rialtas tú a aithint go hoifigiúil. Tá sé de cheart agat náisiúntacht a bheith agat (go mbainfeá le tír áirithe).
Éist le do chearta – léite ag Caoimhe Ní Scolaí
What children and young people are saying
- “I honestly didn’t know much about children’s rights until we had the workshop and the one that would stand out to me the most would be, the right to have a name. I think that is, that’s really shocking, that there is a right to have a name because clearly some people in the world don’t.” – Eva (14)
“I think the right to a name is very important because it gives someone an identity.”
- Children and young people share their views on children’s rights to survive and develop
Find out more
- Cartoons for Children’s Rights – Watch two short cartoons about the right to a name and a nationality, made for Unicef’s Cartoons for Children’s Rights initiative – here and here
- Humanium – Find out more about children’s right to an identity, which includes a right to a name and nationality
Explore More – Resource materials for Teachers & Educators
- Amnesty International et al – ‘Where are names from?’ An activity for 4-7 year olds, which looks at names and how names contribute to identity. In The Right Start (2007), p.46
- UNICEF Ireland – ‘Being Me’. Discussion points and images to support young people to engage with the issue of identity, including children’s right to a name. In Picture Your Rights (2015), p.1.
- Citizens Information Board – ‘Changing your name’. Activity for young people to understand the rules and procedures related to changing one’s name. In Rights and Entitlements for Young People (2010), pp.112-113 & p.119.