Monday, 2nd March 2015
Child and Family Groups Join in Support of Historic Children and Family Relationships Bill
-Children’s Rights Alliance members speaks of urgency to make children’s rights a reality -
The publication of the Children and Family Relationships Bill is a monumental opportunity to enhance the rights of children and families in Ireland. That’s according to the Children’s Rights Alliance, which held a seminar focused on the Bill in Dublin Castle today (02.03.15).
Speaking at the event, Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance said: “The Children and Family Relationships Bill is long overdue, and now, more than ever, we need to have the political will and support to get it across the line.
“All families must be recognised and children provided with certainty and legal recognition of their relationship with those responsible for their everyday care. This Bill will impact positively on the lives of thousands of children and their families.”
Making Children’s Rights a Reality
Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald TD delivered an opening address at the seminar in Dublin Castle this morning, and was joined by Dr Geoffrey Shannon, Special Rapporteur for Child Protection and Founding Patron of the Children’s Rights Alliance who discussed the Bill in detail.
Dr Shannon said today: “Until recently family life in Ireland was synonymous with marriage. The increasing fluidity and diversity of family forms means that it is no longer tenable for Irish law to recognise only one type of family. The constitutional preference for families based on marriage remains intact, but it is essential to provide certainty for all families, whatever their status.
“While the Bill is a hugely positive development, it should be accompanied by structural reform. The establishment of a specific family court system is promised in the Programme for Government and is necessary for a fair and effective forum to vindicate the rights of children and families.”
Giving Children a Voice
Grainne Long, CEO, ISPCC, commented: “The ISPCC warmly welcomes the bill which will have a significant impact on the lives of many children and young people who are currently discriminated against in our legal system. It would also give rights to grandparents and other family members in the area of custody and access.”
Fergus Finlay, CEO Barnardos, said: “This is a children’s bill – a piece of legislation that is aimed at making children more equal in the eyes of the law, that listens to children and places their interests first. The Children and Family Relationships Bill means all children will be treated equally, no matter who is parenting them. This legislation is simply catching up with the reality of thousands of children living in non-traditional family settings, providing greater legal security for their relationships with those loving them and bringing them up. The Bill could be even better if the voice of the child is given stronger legal protection in family law cases.”
Karen Kiernan, CEO of One Family, said: ‘One Family welcomes the fact that children living in step-parent families will now be able to have a legal relationship with the people raising them, however we still need a fast-tracked step-parent adoption system along with a resourced court-welfare system.’
Jennifer Gargan, Director, Empowering People in Care (EPIC), commented: “EPIC warmly welcomes the Children and Family Relationship Bill, which will make a real and practical difference to the lives of children in foster care. The Bill will enable foster carers to seek guardianships rights in relation to children in their care.
“This will allow them to make decisions about the everyday lives of foster children and ensure that children are not missing out on opportunities or made to feel different than their friends because they are in care.”
Dr Ruth Barrington, Chair of Treoir, added,: "We warmly welcome the Minister's announcement that she will consider at Committee Stage how to grant guardianship to unmarried non-cohabiting fathers who are sharing parenting of their children".
For more information on the Children’s Rights Alliance visit: www.childrensrights.ie
Contact: Catherine Heaney / Sarah Harte, DHR Communications, Tel: 01-4200580 / 087-2309835 / 087-9858259
Note to Editors:
The following people are available for media interview:
• Dr Ruth Barrington, Chair, Treoir
• Fergus Finlay, CEO, Barnardos
• Jennifer Gargan, CEO, Empowering People in Care (EPIC)
• Karen Kiernan, CEO, One Family
• Grainne Long, CEO, ISPCC
• Tanya Ward, Chief Executive, Children’s Rights Alliance
About The Children’s Rights Alliance
The Children’s Rights Alliance unites over 100 members working together to make Ireland one of the best places in the world to be a child. We change the lives of all children in Ireland by making sure that their rights are respected and protected in our laws, policies and services.