AS TO THE ADMISSIBILITY OF

                      Application No. 28154/95
                      by LF
                      against Ireland

     The European Commission of Human Rights (First Chamber) sitting
in private on 2 July 1997, the following members being present:

           Mr.   M.P. PELLONPÄÄ, Acting President
           Mrs.  J. LIDDY
           MM.   E. BUSUTTIL
                 A. WEITZEL
                 C.L. ROZAKIS
                 L. LOUCAIDES
                 B. CONFORTI
                 N. BRATZA
                 I. BÉKÉS
                 G. RESS
                 A. PERENIC
                 C. BÎRSAN
                 K. HERNDL
                 M. VILA AMIGÓ
           Mrs.  M. HION
           Mr.   R. NICOLINI

           Mrs.  M.F. BUQUICCHIO, Secretary to the Chamber

     Having regard to Article 25 of the Convention for the Protection
of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms;

     Having regard to the application introduced on 10 January 1995
by LF against Ireland and registered on 7 August 1995 under file
No. 28154/95;

     Having regard to the report provided for in Rule 47 of the Rules
of Procedure of the Commission;

     Having deliberated;

     Decides as follows:

THE FACTS

     The applicant, a male to female transsexual, was born in 1947 and
was registered as a male at birth. She holds both Irish and United
Kingdom passports and is resident in Co. Kildare, Ireland.

     The facts as submitted by the applicant may be summarised as
follows.

A.   Particular circumstances of the case

     The facts as submitted by the applicant may be summarised as
follows. The applicant married AF on 28 September 1977. They had two
children, A and B, born on 16 August 1978 and 18 October 1980,
respectively. Following recurrent eating difficulties and gender
related illness the applicant collapsed and was hospitalised in August
1989. She began gender re-assignment treatment on 6 September 1989. By
March 1991 the applicant was completely in role as a woman. Following
medical assessment of the applicant's condition, a grant was approved
by the Eastern Health Board for corrective genital surgery. This
surgery was carried out in England on 25 July 1992.

1.   Birth Certificate

     On 5 December 1993 the applicant's solicitors wrote to the
General Register Office as regards amending the applicant's birth
certificate in light of her transsexualism and gender re-assignment
surgery. On 17 December 1993 the Assistant Registrar General responded
that:

     "The entry in the birth register is the record of an event; it
     is thus confined to the facts relating to the circumstances of
     the birth at the time of the birth in question. The birth entry
     is not, nor was it intended to be, a personal record which would
     be updated to take account of each significant change in the life
     history of the subject. For example, when a child is adopted, no
     change is made in the relevant entry in the register of births.
     Similarly when a person marries, his or her birth entry is not
     annotated in any way.

     The format of an entry in the register of births requires the
     recording of the sex of the Child in Column 4. For obvious
     reasons the genital characteristics of the child would be used
     at birth to determine sex and a determination on this basis would
     be reflected in column 4 of the relevant birth entry. ...

     <Gender reassignment surgery and related hormone and other
     treatment>, however, has no bearing on the facts of the birth and
     accordingly there would not appear to be any scope for an
     amendment to the relevant entry in the register of births.

     I regret that we cannot accede to your client's request in this
     matter."

     By letter dated 26 September 1994 the Ombudsman indicated that
he was satisfied that he could not recommend a change of the decision
regarding the applicant's birth certificate, the Ombudsman not
considering that it would be appropriate to alter the practice of
determining the gender of a baby on the basis of genital
characteristics. Letters dated 5 January 1995 and 10 May 1995 from
subsequent Ombudsmen confirmed the original response from that office
and noted that to accede to the applicant's wish would require a change
in legislation.

     A letter dated 17 January 1996 from the General Register Office
essentially repeated the contents of that office's earlier letter as
regards amendments to birth certificates.

     On 11 July 1996 the Free Legal Advice Centre ("FLAC") indicated
to the applicant its agreement to take up the issue of the birth
certificate on her behalf. By letter dated 3 December 1996 FLAC made
a formal application to the General Register Office requesting that the
birth register be amended on the basis that, as a result of a failure
to detect the applicant's disability at the time of her birth and an
incomplete understanding of the applicant's condition, her sex was
"erroneously" recorded as male. FLAC noted that neither the relevant
legislation nor the regulations made thereunder provide for any one
specific method of determination of the sex of a child. Proceedings for
judicial review (on the basis of a breach of the applicant's
constitutional rights to privacy, dignity, equality and the right to
marry) were threatened in the event of a refusal to amend the birth
certificate.

     The General Register Office replied by letter dated
11 February 1997 pointing out, in addition to the explanations
contained in previous letters, that the format of the entry in the
register of births is prescribed by section 30 of the Births and Deaths
Registration (Ireland) Act 1863 and that the schedule to that Act
requires the recording of the sex of the child in column 4.

     On 14 April 1997 the applicant was granted leave to take judicial
review proceedings in relation to the refusal by the General Register
Office to amend her birth certificate. The Attorney General is a
respondent to those proceedings since the applicant challenges, as an
alternative to the judicial review submissions, the constitutionality
of the relevant parts of the Births and Deaths Registration (Ireland)
Act 1863.

     The applicant has submitted an invitation from the adult
education centre of a college dated 29 September 1995 to attend a
conferring ceremony, the relevant acceptance form indicating that the
form was to be filled out "including your full Christian name as stated
on your Birth Certificate". A letter dated 12 February 1996 from the
Training and Employment Authority confirmed to the applicant that she
was being offered training in a course and that she should bring with
her when attending, inter alia, her birth certificate.

     By application made in the United Kingdom dated 18 March 1991 the
applicant changed her name by deed poll and she has held a British
passport in her new name and recording her female sex since
23 August 1991. On 23 November 1993 the Registrar of the Irish High
Court confirmed that the Irish Deed Poll was enrolled on
16 November 1993 and the applicant has held an Irish passport in her
new name and recording her female sex since 15 February 1993.

2.   Judicial separation, access to children and the family home

     Prior to April 1991 AF and the applicant separated and agreed,
inter alia, the terms and conditions of the applicant's access to the
children. AF requested, and the applicant agreed, that the applicant
would not disclose her transsexualism to her children. The applicant
and AF had attended a child psychiatrist who advised, pending further
investigation of the matter, that the children should not be informed
of the situation. On 24 April 1991 the applicant's wife issued judicial
separation proceedings.

     On 13 December 1991 AF and the applicant agreed to settle the
judicial separation proceedings and the settlement was confirmed by
Circuit Court order of the same date. The Circuit Court order submitted
by the applicant records the parties' agreement to a judicial
separation, that AF be granted custody of the children and exclusive
right of residence in the family home, that the applicant was excluded
from the family home and undertook only to enter the house on the basis
of an express wish from AF, that the applicant would have access to the
children each Sunday and on Sunday night once a month with the
applicant having sole access to the children one weekend a month, that
the question of maintenance be adjourned until the applicant was
employed and that neither party would commit any act to jeopardise the
value of their respective joint shares in the family home.

     That order also records, as a term of the settlement, that the
applicant agreed to act, behave and dress as a male during access
visits. However, the applicant claims that the Circuit Court order
recording the settlement was fraudulently amended to include this
condition. However, the applicant's solicitor's letter dated
21 March 1994 points out that the applicant's solicitor (having
consulted with counsel who acted for the applicant in December 1991)
considered that the Circuit Court order represented the sense of the
settlement terms and that at no stage was it envisaged that the
applicant would attend for access dressed as a woman.

     The applicant was due to see her children a few days after AF was
informed of the applicant's gender reassignment surgery (which surgery
took place on 25 July 1992). Since the applicant's access visit was
imminent, AF felt compelled to explain the applicant's position, her
treatment and the gender assignment operation to A (then 14 years old)
and B (then 12 years old). AF later reported (to the consultant
psychiatrist referred to below) that A reacted badly and expressed a
lot of anger at the applicant and B cried and seemed not to know what
to say. Accordingly, AF contacted her solicitors and said that the
children did not wish to see the applicant as they were too upset.

     A letter dated 19 October 1992 from the AF's lawyers rejected the
applicant's allegations of insensitivity as regards the children being
told about her gender re-assignment surgery, made reference to a letter
which the applicant had sent to her children which apparently upset the
children greatly and noted that the children did not want to hear or
see from the applicant at that point in time.

     On 1 July 1993 the applicant turned up at the family home. The
applicant claims that she was dressed in a gender neutral way and but
AF alleges that she was dressed in female attire, wearing a skirt and
dressed in pink. The police were called to the house by AF. By letter
dated 12 July 1993 the applicant's solicitor informed the applicant
that AF was threatening to apply to re-open the judicial separation
proceedings including the access issue, that there was a serious risk
that a court would find that the applicant valued her expression of
femininity more highly than access to her children and would formally
deny her access, that she was at risk of being barred from the family
home and that AF would probably request the court for a transfer of the
applicant's interest in the family home in default of maintenance.
Accordingly, and in order to avoid a full reconsideration of the
separation agreement, the applicant was asked by her lawyer to give an
undertaking not to approach the family home.

     By letter from AF's solicitors dated 14 October 1993 the
applicant's solicitors were informed that the applicant had again
called to the family home without prior notice or the consent of AF.
B had opened the door to the applicant had become upset and hysterical.
Having left the house the applicant returned twenty minutes later
wishing to speak to B again. It was pointed out that the applicant had
given B a birthday present and some material on gender re-assignment,
that the applicant was in breach of the existing Circuit Court order
of December 1991 and that that order had been furnished to the police
so that if such events re-occurred a court application would be made
to find the applicant in contempt of court.

     By letter dated 1 November 1993 the applicant's solicitor was
informed that AF had obtained an interlocutory barring order from the
Circuit Court on 29 October 1993 on an ex parte basis barring the
applicant from the family home pending the outcome of the current
proceedings (due for hearing in December 1993) which had in the
meantime been issued for a re-consideration of the separation
agreement. (The applicant's current name was employed in the title of
those proceedings). On 3 December 1993 the applicant applied by way of
a notice of motion to the Circuit Court to set aside the barring order
indicating that the applicant had undertaken not to approach the family
home.

     A report dated 10 May 1994, prepared by a consultant child
psychiatrist instructed on the applicant's behalf for the purposes of
the on-going proceedings, advised on the question of access by the
applicant to her two children. For the purposes of the report the
applicant, AF and the two children were interviewed. The consultant
considered that the applicant's opinion, that if she were able to meet
with the children and explain to them the reasons for the surgery
everything would resolve itself and there would be regular contact
between them, was naive. He noted that neither of the children had any
preparation for the surgery which had deprived them of a father. He did
note that it had been required by AF, and the applicant had agreed,
that no such preparation or discussion would take place. The
applicant's gender reassignment has been a momentous event in the
children's lives, they not only having lost their parents' marriage but
their father as well.

     The consultant noted that the children were unable to countenance
even the most non-threatening communication with the applicant and,
consequently, he could not recommend that there should be access
between the children and the applicant adding that both of the children
did not wish to see the applicant, were clear about this and were quite
independent children. He did not consider that the children were being
overly influenced by their mother in making that decision, the only
influence which he noted was that the children need to maintain a good
relationship with AF during a time of such flux and change occasioned
by their parents' separation and their father's transsexual surgery.
He concluded by stating that the children demonstrated a strong
attachment to the father they knew, and were distressed by this loss.
It would, in his view, take some time before they could adjust to the
person their father had become, that this would in time come about and
that in the future they would be in touch with their father and the
respective relationships would re-commence.

     On 20 May 1994 the Circuit Court, having heard submissions from
counsel for the parties, made no order as to access and ordered that
the applicant's interest in the family home be transferred to AF
pursuant to the provisions of the Judicial Separation and Family Law
Reform Act 1989 in the absence of the provision of maintenance by the
applicant and that the barring order continue until further order. On
14 October 1994 the High Court, having heard counsel for both parties,
confirmed the order of the Circuit Court of 20 May 1994 adding that the
applicant was to be restrained from being within one mile of the family
home.

     The applicant received a letter dated 17 January 1996 from the
Mullingar County Registrar's office addressing her as "Mr." and prior
to that date and thereafter in January 1996 she received letters from
the same and other Country Registrar's offices addressing her by her
current name, as "Dr." and as "Madam".

     By letter dated 1 February 1996 the applicant's solicitors
informed the applicant that the application for legal aid (in order to
obtain counsel's opinion on the prospects of re-opening the proceedings
in order to renew access and to have the applicant's equity in the
house restored) had been refused on the basis that it would not be in
conformity with the purpose and terms of the legal aid scheme to grant
it, that the applicant had as a matter of law no reasonable grounds for
taking, defending or being a party to proceedings, that the applicant
had not made a case for being granted a certificate which is such as
to warrant the conclusion that she was reasonably likely to succeed and
that, having regard to all the circumstances of the case, it would not
be reasonable to grant legal aid. By letter dated 1 May 1996 the
applicant's lawyer confirmed the rejection, by the area committee of
the legal aid board, of the applicant's appeal against the refusal of
further legal aid.

3.   Employment

     From February 1987 the applicant was employed as a dental surgeon
in a temporary capacity by the Eastern Health Board. On 22 October 1990
she received a letter from her employer informing her that it was not
proposed to continue her employment after 30 November 1990. No reason
was given for the termination of her employment, the termination was
the subject of discussion and correspondence with her legal
representatives and an agreed settlement was reached. On
17 September 1991 the applicant was refused unemployment benefit. On
8 November 1991 the health board furnished the applicant with a
reference which simply confirmed the period and nature of the
applicant's employment.


COMPLAINTS

     The applicant complains under Article 8 of the Convention about
the denial of a birth certificate recording her female sex.

     She also complains under Articles 6 and 8 about the denial of
access to her children, the transfer to her wife of her interest in the
family home and about the related proceedings.

     The applicant also invokes Article 3 of the Convention as regards
the failure by the courts to acknowledge her female gender.

     The applicant further complains under Articles 8 and 10 of the
Convention about the loss of her job with the Eastern Health Board and
about the latter's failure to give her an appropriate employment
reference.

     She also complains that she was denied unemployment benefit. She
also invokes Article 14 of the Convention in conjunction with all of
the above Articles claiming that she was discriminated against because
she is a transsexual.

     Finally, the applicant invokes Article 13 of the Convention
claiming that she has no effective domestic remedies in respect of the
above complaints.


THE LAW

1.   The applicant complains under Article 8 (Art. 8) alone and in
conjunction with Article 14 (Art. 8+14) of the Convention about the
denial of a birth certificate recording her female sex. She submits
that she was born with Gender Identity Disorder (transsexual syndrome)
and that her birth certificate should acknowledge her female gender.
She argues that a birth certificate is required for certain matters
including employment, third level education, passport applications and
for marriage.

     The Commission recalls that, in a legal system which provides
constitutional protection of fundamental rights, it is incumbent on the
aggrieved person to test the extent of that protection and, in a common
law system, to allow the domestic courts to develop those rights by way
of interpretation (No. 24196/94, Dec. 22.1.96, D.R. 84-A, p. 72). The
Commission also notes that the applicant has recently initiated
judicial review and constitutional proceedings in relation to the
refusal to amend her birth certificate, which proceedings have not as
yet terminated. Moreover, the Commission considers that an examination
of the case, as it has been submitted, does not disclose the existence
of any special circumstances which would absolve the applicant from
exhausting the domestic remedies now being pursued by her
(No. 14556/89, Dec. 5.3.91, D.R. 69, p. 261).

     Accordingly, the Commission considers that the applicant has not,
as matters stand, exhausted domestic remedies within the meaning of
Article 26 (Art. 26) of the Convention and these complaints are,
therefore, inadmissible pursuant to Article 27 para. 3 (Art. 27-3) of
the Convention.

2.   The applicant also complains under Articles 6 and 8 (Art. 6, 8)
alone and in conjunction with Article 14 (Art. 6+14, 8+14) of the
Convention about the denial of access to her children, about the
removal of her interest in the family home and about the relevant
proceedings in those respects.

     The applicant makes numerous submissions in this respect alleging
widespread fraud, collusion and bias. She submits that she did not have
a fair or unbiased hearing at any time because her name and medical
condition were ridiculed by the Circuit and High Courts on 20 May and
14 October 1994, respectively, that the Circuit Court order of
13 December 1991 was fraudulently altered (to add the condition that
the applicant would at all times in the presence of the children act,
behave and dress as a male) and that her then and subsequent legal
representatives colluded in covering up that fraud, that she had no
access to the original agreement which she had signed in December 1991
or to a psychiatric report which was used against her in the domestic
proceedings. She further alleges that the child psychiatrist who
completed the report dated 10 May 1994 was biased as were her legal
representatives. She also argues that she has been refused further
legal aid unless she comes up with "new circumstances". Finally, she
claims that the barring order was obtained by illegal procedures and
on the basis of dishonesty and situations which did not happen.

(a)  Article 8 (Art. 8), insofar as relevant, provides as follows:

     "1.   Everyone has the right to respect for his ... family life,
     his home ...

     2.    There shall be no interference by a public authority with
     the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with
     the law and is necessary in a democratic society ... for the
     protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the
     rights and freedoms of others."

     The Commission's task is to establish whether there has been an
interference with the rights guaranteed under Article 8 (Art. 8) of the
Convention and, if so, whether it is justified under Article 8 para. 2
(Art. 8-2) of the Convention, namely, whether any such interference is
"in accordance with the law", pursues one or more of the legitimate
aims set out in Article 8 para. 2 (Art. 8-2) and whether it is
"necessary in a democratic society" for one or more of those reasons.

     As far as access is concerned, the Commission notes at the outset
that prior to the separation proceedings being issued, the parties had
agreed between themselves the terms and conditions of access. The
subsequent judicial separation proceedings were definitively settled
insofar as they related to the terms and conditions of access in
December 1991 by the applicant and AF. The purpose of the Circuit Court
order was to give the settlement terms the force of a court order. The
Commissions considers that the later re-opening of, inter alia, the
access issue pursuant to the applicant's actions in 1993 does not
affect the final nature of the December 1991 Circuit Court order for
the purposes of the time-limit set down by Article 26 (Art. 26) of the
Convention. Accordingly, the Commission considers that, insofar as the
December 1991 Circuit Court order involves an interference by a public
authority in relation to the applicant's access to her children, any
complaint in that respect has been introduced outside of the six-month
time-limit set down by Article 26 (Art. 26) of the Convention, the
application having been introduced on 10 January 1995. This complaint
is therefore inadmissible pursuant to Article 27 para. 3 (Art. 27-3)
of the Convention. The Commission has referred below to the December
1991 Circuit Court order insofar as it is relevant to later
proceedings.

     However, the Commission considers that the decisions of the
domestic courts in October 1993, May 1994 and in October 1994 to, inter
alia, impose and maintain a barring order against the applicant,
constituted an interference with her right to respect for her family
life as guaranteed in Article 8 para. 1 (Art. 8-1) of the Convention
since the purpose and effect of those decisions was to deny the
applicant access to her children (Eur. Court HR, Eriksson v. Sweden
judgment of 22 June 1989, Series A no. 156, pp. 27, 59).

     As to whether the decisions as to the barring order were lawful,
the Commission notes that the applicant claims that the barring order
was obtained by illegal procedures and on the basis of dishonesty and
misrepresentation of the facts. As noted above, the applicant alleges
that the Circuit Court order of 13 December 1991 was fraudulently
altered to add the condition that she would at all times in the
presence of the children act, behave and dress as a male. She also
submits that she was, in any event, dressed in a gender neutral way
when she visited the family home in 1993. The Commission notes that the
applicant's then and subsequent legal representatives have confirmed
their view that the Circuit Court order reflected the terms of the
settlement between the parties. Although the applicant alleges
collusion on the part of those legal representatives in covering up the
alleged fraudulent alteration of the Circuit Court order, the
Commission considers these allegations unsubstantiated. Having reviewed
the documents submitted, the Commission does not consider that the
applicant's submissions demonstrate that the Circuit Court order dated
13 December 1991 reflects anything other than an accurate record of an
agreement between the parties as to the conditions for, inter alia, the
applicant's access to the children.

     As to the applicant's compliance with that Circuit Court order,
the Commission considers that the documents submitted by the applicant,
including the child psychiatrist's report and both parties' solicitors'
letters, do not support her claim that she was dressed in a gender
neutral manner during her visits to the family home in 1993. The
Commission further considers that the applicant has not substantiated
in any way her allegations of bias on the part of that child
psychiatrist. In any event, the Commission notes that, apart from the
issue of the applicant's dress and comportment during those visits, the
applicant did not receive a request to attend at the family home, a
condition of the December 1991 Circuit Court order which the applicant
does not dispute. Furthermore, it is also apparent from the documents
submitted by the applicant, that the Circuit and High Court exercised
its jurisdiction in the interests of the applicant's children.

     Accordingly, the Commission finds the domestic courts, in
imposing and maintaining the barring order, were exercising their
inherent injunctive jurisdiction as a result of the applicant's
attendance at the family home in 1993 in breach of the Circuit Court
order of 13 December 1991 and that the relevant decisions were
therefore "in accordance with law" and in pursuit of the legitimate
aims of protecting the children's health and rights.

     As to whether this measure was necessary within the meaning of
Article 8 para. 2 (Art. 8-2) of the Convention, the case-law of the
Convention organs establishes that the notion of necessity implies that
the interference corresponds to a pressing social need and that it is
proportionate to the aim pursued. Furthermore, in determining whether
an interference is necessary, the Convention organs take into account
that a margin of appreciation is left to the Contracting States who are
in principle in a better position to make an initial assessment as to
the necessity of given measure (Eur. Court HR, W. v. the United Kingdom
judgment of 8 July 1987, Series A no. 121, p. 27, para. 59). When
determining whether or not the decision refusing access was necessary,
the Commission observes that it is not its task to take the place of
the competent national courts and make a fresh examination of all the
facts and evidence. The Commission's task is to examine whether the
reasons adduced to justify the interference at issue are "relevant and
sufficient" (Eur. Court HR, Olsson v. Sweden judgment of 24 March 1988,
Series A no. 130, p. 32, para. 68).

     In the first place, the Commission is cognisant of the position
as regards access with which the domestic courts were presented in
October 1993 when the first application for a barring order was
decided. The applicant's access to her children had, up to that point,
been regulated by agreements between the applicant and AF. The
Commission has also found that it was the applicant's breach of the
December 1991 Circuit Court order by, at the very least, the
applicant's attendance without invitation at the family home in 1993
which led to the application for a barring order. The decisions of the
courts, initially, on an ex parte basis and, subsequently, after a
hearing before the Circuit and High Courts in May and October 1994,
respectively at which both parties were legally represented was to
impose a barring order and to maintain that order in place until a
further order of the court.

     Secondly, and while the applicant has not submitted the judgment
of the High Court (the last decision on this matter), the Commission
has had particular regard to the child psychiatrist's report dated
10 May 1994 which was obtained by the applicant's solicitors on her
behalf for the purposes of the ongoing proceedings in relation to,
inter alia, the barring order and in order to advise on the question
of access by the applicant to her two children. That psychiatrist
concluded that the applicant's view, that if she were able to meet with
the children and explain to them the reasons for the surgery everything
would resolve itself and there would be regular contact between them,
was naive. He noted that the applicant's gender reassignment has been
a momentous event in the children's lives and that the children were
unable to countenance even the most non-threatening communication with
the applicant. He could not recommend that there should be access
between the children and the applicant adding that both the children
did not wish to see the applicant, were clear about this and were quite
independent children. While he was not adverse to the idea of contact
in the future, he advised against at that time in view of the
children's wishes and position. The Commission has noted above its view
of the applicant's allegation of bias against this psychiatrist.

     In the above circumstances, the Commission considers that the
domestic courts had relevant and sufficient reasons, within the meaning
of Article 8 para. 2 (Art. 8-2) of the Convention, to have imposed and
maintained in force the barring order against the applicant.

     As to the applicant's complaint about the transfer of her
interest in the family home and insofar as this gives rise to an
interference with the applicant's rights under Article 8 (Art. 8) of
the Convention, the Commission notes that the applicant submits that
this was unlawful but does not specify in what respect. The Commission
recalls that the initial Circuit Court order of December 1991 adjourned
the matter of maintenance (and effectively the question of the transfer
of the applicant's interest in the family home in default of
maintenance) which step the Commission considers was for the
applicant's benefit because the applicant was at the time unemployed.
Moreover, the Circuit and High Courts, in making and confirming the
transfer of the applicant's interest, did so expressly in pursuance of
the Judicial Separation and Family Law Reform Act 1989. In addition,
the Commission recalls that the transfer of the applicant's interest
was made in default of the payment of any maintenance by the applicant.
In such circumstances, the Commission is of the view that this decision
had a legitimate aim, being the financial provision for the applicant's
family, and that it was proportionate in that it constituted an order
by a court for the satisfaction of a maintenance obligation which the
applicant had not been in a position to otherwise fulfil.

     However, the Commission also recalls that there are certain
procedural requirements implied in Article 8 (Art. 8) of the Convention
in order to ensure effective respect for family life (Eur. Court HR,
H. v. the United Kingdom judgment, loc. cit., pp. 27-28 and 59, paras.
87-90 and W. v. the United Kingdom judgment, loc. cit., pp. 28-29, pp.
63-65).

     As to the proceedings on the access issue, the Commission notes
that the applicant was represented throughout the relevant proceedings,
she having been granted free legal aid in that respect. As noted above,
the Commission considers the applicant's allegations as regards her
legal representatives unsubstantiated. The Commission is satisfied that
the applicant was given the possibility of putting forward any views
which in her opinion would be decisive for the outcome of the case. The
Commission also considers that the length of the overall proceedings
in relation to access was not unreasonable and it does not appear that
it led to a de facto determination of the access issue by the mere
effluxion of time or deprived the applicant of a decision upon the
merits of the case - the proceedings re-opening the access matter
issued between July 1993 and October 1993 and the access matter was
decided by the courts' decisions on the barring order taken in October
1993, May 1994 and, subsequently, on appeal in October 1994.

     As to proceedings in relation to the applicant's interest in the
family home, the applicant was also legally represented during all
relevant proceedings. The matter of maintenance was expressly left open
by the December 1991 Circuit Court order for the benefit of the
applicant and once the proceedings issued for a re-consideration of
this matter (July to October 1993) the matter was decided, at first
instance, by May 1994 and, on appeal, in October 1994.

     Accordingly, the Commission considers that the procedural
requirements implicit in Article 8 (Art. 8) of the Convention were
complied with and that the applicant was involved in the decision-
making process as regards access and her interest in the family home
to a degree sufficient to provide her with the requisite protection of
her interests.

     In such circumstances, the Commission concludes, bearing in mind
the margin of appreciation accorded to the domestic authorities, that
the interferences with the applicant's rights contained in Article 8
(Art. 8) of the Convention, were justified as being "necessary in a
democratic society" for the protection of the health and rights of the
children. Consequently, this part of the application is manifestly ill-
founded within the meaning of Article 27 para. 2 (Art. 27-2) of the
Convention.

(b)  The applicant also invokes Article 6 (Art. 6) as regards the
domestic proceedings, which Article, insofar as relevant, reads as
follows:

     "1.   In the determination of his civil rights ..., everyone is
     entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time
     by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law."

     Insofar as the applicant argues under this Article that the
decisions of the courts were wrong, the Commission recalls that, in
accordance with Article 19 (Art. 19) of the Convention, its only task
is to ensure the observance of the obligations undertaken by the
parties in the Convention. In particular, it is not competent to deal
with an application alleging that errors of law or fact have been
committed by domestic courts, except where it considers that such
errors might have involved a possible violation of any of the rights
and freedoms set out in the Convention. The Commission refers, on this
point, to its constant case-law (see eg. No. 458/59, X. v. Belgium,
Dec. 29.3.60, Yearbook 3, pp. 222, 236; No. 5258/71, X. v. Sweden, Dec.
8.2.73, Collection 43, pp.71, 77; No. 7987/77, X. v. Austria, Dec.
13.12.79, D.R. 18, pp. 31, 45). In particular, the Commission recalls
that it is not for the Commission to re-assess the factual or legal
elements of the case before the domestic courts, given that the
decisions taken had, as noted above, a basis in law and were based on
relevant and sufficient reasons (see, for example, No. 24604/94, Dec.
6.9.95, unpublished).

     As regards her specific submissions as to procedural
irregularities, the Commission recalls that its task is to assess the
overall fairness of the proceedings as a whole (see, for example, Eur.
Court HR, Dombo Beheer B. v. the Netherlands judgment of
27 October 1993, Series A no. 274, p. 19, para. 31).

     In the first place, the Commission has commented above on the
applicant's allegations as regards her legal representatives, relating
to the accuracy of the Circuit Court order of December 1991 and in
respect of the child psychiatrist who completed the report dated
10 May 1994. As to her allegation about lack of access to a psychiatric
report, the Commission notes that, while the applicant refers to the
name of the author of the report, she has not indicated on whose behalf
the report was obtained or what use was made in the proceedings of this
report.

     Secondly and as to the applicant's allegations of bias on the
part of the domestic courts due to her medical condition, the
Commission recalls that a tribunal must be objectively and subjectively
impartial, the subjective impartiality of a judge being assumed unless
there is proof to the contrary (see, for example, Eur. Court HR,
Padovani v. Italy judgment of 26 February 1993, Series A no. 257-B,
p. 20, paras. 25-26). However, the Commission finds no evidence that
her name or condition were ridiculed by relevant judges as alleged by
the applicant or at all. The Commission also notes, in this respect,
that the title of the proceedings which issued in 1993 included her
present name. In addition the Commission notes its conclusions at 3.
below in these respects. Accordingly, the Commission considers that the
applicant has not demonstrated objective or subjective impartiality or
bias on the part of the courts.

     Thirdly, and as regards the refusal of legal aid for a further
re-opening of the access and family home matters, the Commission
recalls that Article 6 (Art. 6) of the Convention does not guarantee
the right, as such, to free legal aid in civil cases. This Article does
guarantee effective access to court for the determination of civil
rights but it leaves the choice of the means to be used towards this
end to the State and, accordingly, the grant of legal aid may be
subject to certain conditions provided this is not arbitrary (No.
10594/83, Dec. 14.7.87, D.R. 52, p. 158). In the present case, the
Commission notes that the applicant was legally aided for the judicial
separation proceedings which settled in December 1991 and for the re-
opening of those proceedings which were finally determined in October
1994. The Commission considers that the refusal of further legal aid,
on the grounds outlined by the legal aid board, does not constitute an
arbitrary limitation on the applicant's access to court.

     Having regard to the proceedings as a whole, the Commission's
conclusions at 2(a) above as to the relevant and sufficient reasons of
the domestic courts and its conclusions on the specific submissions of
the applicant as to the conduct of the proceedings, the Commission
concludes that the applicant has not demonstrated that she did not have
a fair hearing within the meaning of Article 6 para. 1 (Art. 6-1) of
the Convention. It follows that this part of the application is
manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 27 para. 2
(Art. 27-2) of the Convention.

(c)  As to the applicant's complaint under Article 14 in conjunction
with the complaints under Articles 6 and 8 above (Art. 14+6+8), the
Commission recalls that Article 14 (Art. 14) of the Convention reads
as follows:

     "The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in this
     Convention shall be secured without discrimination on any ground
     such as sex, race, colour, language, religion, political or other
     opinion, national or social origin, association with a national
     minority, property, birth or other status."

     The Commission recalls that Article 14 (Art. 14) of the
Convention protects against a discriminatory difference in treatment
of persons in analogous positions, which treatment is considered
discriminatory if it does not pursue a legitimate aim and if there is
no reasonable relationship of proportionality between the means
employed and the legitimate aim sought to be realised (Eur. Court HR,
Darby v. Sweden judgment of 23 October 1990, Series A no. 187, p. 12,
para. 31).

     However, and in the first place, there is no evidence whatsoever
that the applicant's condition was either relevant to or taken into
account by the domestic courts when deciding on the applicant's
interest in the family home. Secondly, the Commission notes that the
over-riding interest in the proceedings relating to the applicant's
access to her children was what was considered to be the best interests
of the children, that being the core concern in all domestic access
cases. Furthermore, the Commission does not find any evidence of
treatment contrary to Article 14 (Art. 14) of the Convention as regards
the conduct of the proceedings relating to the above-mentioned access
and family home matters. Accordingly, the Commission considers that
this complaint is manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of
Article 27 para. 2 (Art. 27-2) of the Convention.

3.   The applicant also invokes Article 3 (Art. 3) of the Convention
alone and in conjunction with Article 14 (Art. 3+14) of the Convention
as regards the failure by the courts to acknowledge her gender by using
"Ms." or "Miss" to address her and by using "Dr." instead. She also
refers to a letter from Mullingar County Registrar's office dated 17
January 1996 which addressed her as "Mr.". Article 3 (Art. 3) of the
Convention provides as follows:

     "No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading
     treatment or punishment."

     Even assuming that the applicant's allegations as regards the
courts are substantiated, the Commission considers that they show that
the courts addressed the applicant in a gender neutral manner and, as
noted above, the title of the proceedings issued in 1993 reflected her
current name. The Commission also notes several letters written from
that same and other County Registrar's offices in the same month
addressing the applicant as "Dr.", "Madam" and by her current name. The
Commission does not consider that this approach by the courts or a
single letter from the a County Registrar addressing the applicant as
"Mr." discloses treatment of such a nature or degree as to render it
either inhuman or degrading within the meaning of Article 3 (Art. 3)
of the Convention (Eur. Court HR, Ireland v. the United Kingdom
judgment of 18 January 1978, Series A no. 25, p. 65, para. 162) or a
discriminatory difference in treatment within the meaning of Article
14 (Art. 14) of the Convention outlined at 2 (c) above. It follows that
this part of the application must be rejected as manifestly ill-founded
within the meaning of Article 27 para. 2 (Art. 27-2) of the Convention.


4.   The applicant complains under Articles 8 and 10 (Art. 8, 10)
alone and in conjunction with Article 14 (Art. 8+14, 10+14) of the
Convention about the loss of her job with the Eastern Health Board. She
submits that her employment was terminated without good reason and that
she was denied an appropriate employment reference. She also complains
that she has been denied unemployment benefit.

     However, the Commission notes that the applicant introduced her
application to the Commission on 10 January 1995 and that her
employment had terminated, the matter was settled and she obtained the
relevant employment reference prior to the end of 1991. Accordingly,
the complaints as regards her loss of employment and the employment
reference, together with the Article 14 (Art. 14) complaint raised in
conjunction, have been introduced outside of the six-month time-limit
set down by Article 26 (Art. 26) of the Convention and these complaints
are therefore inadmissible pursuant to Article 27 para. 3 (Art. 27-3)
of the Convention.

     In addition, and insofar as the applicant submits that the
refusal of employment benefit constitutes a continuing violation of the
Convention, the Commission recalls that there is no right guaranteed
by the Convention to receive financial assistance from the State in
order to maintain a certain standard of living (No. 11776/85,
Dec. 4.3.86, D.R. 46, p. 251). Accordingly, the Commission considers
this complaint by the applicant, and consequently her complaint under
Article 14 (Art. 14) raised in conjunction, to be incompatible ratione
materiae with the provisions of the Convention. These complaints are
therefore inadmissible pursuant to Article 27 para. 2 (Art. 27-2) of
the Convention.

5.   The applicant also complains under Article 13 (Art. 13) that she
had no effective domestic remedies available to her in respect of the
above complaints. Article 13 (Art. 13) reads as follows:

     "Everyone whose rights and freedoms as set forth in this
     Convention are violated shall have an effective remedy before a
     national authority notwithstanding that the violation has been
     committed by persons acting in an official capacity."

     In respect of the complaints made by the applicant under sections
2-4 above, the Commission recalls that Article 13 (Art. 13) does not
require a remedy under domestic law in respect of any alleged violation
of the Convention. It only applies if the individual can be said to
have an "arguable claim" of a violation of the Convention (Eur. Court
HR, Boyle and Rice v. the United Kingdom judgment of 27 April 1988,
Series A no. 131, p. 23, para. 52). The Commission finds that the
applicant cannot be said, in light of its findings above, to have an
"arguable claim" of a violation of her Convention rights.

     In respect of the matters raised under section 1, the Commission
recalls its finding that the applicant is in the process of exhausting
domestic remedies pursuant to Article 26 (Art. 26) of the Convention.

     It follows that the applicant's complaints under Article 13
(Art. 13) must be dismissed as manifestly ill-founded within the
meaning of Article 27 para. 2 (Art. 27-2) of the Convention.

     For these reasons, the Commission, unanimously,

     DECLARES THE APPLICATION INADMISSIBLE.

     M.F. BUQUICCHIO                            M.P. PELLONPÄÄ
        Secretary                              Acting President
   to the First Chamber                      of the First Chamber