Embargo : 01.00 Tuesday 28 September 2010:
18th Birthday....One Generation On
Today (28 Sept 2010) marks the 18th Anniversary of Ireland ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Children born on that historic day in 1992, today reach adulthood. Happy Birthday! So did our ratification of the Convention make a difference to their childhoods?
In 1992 Ireland made a clear and resounding commitment to children’s rights. Considerable progress has been made since then, for instance the appointment of a Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, the creation of an Office of the Ombudsman for Children, the establishment of Dáil na nÓg and the publication of a 10 year National Children’s Strategy.
However, 18 years on, many of the principles of the Convention are still not a reality in Ireland. The current constitutional provisions hinder the full implementation of the Article 2 of the Convention which focuses on non-discrimination and equality among children, and Article 3 which holds that the best interests of the child should be a primary consideration in all matters affecting the child.
The Government has made a firm commitment to hold a referendum to strengthen children’s rights. Proposed wording for an amendment has been drawn up and importantly it has all party support; but a date has yet to be set. Today, we call on the Government to celebrate the 18th Anniversary by naming a date for a referendum so that children born today will live in a society where their rights are visible in, and protected by, the Constitution.
Since 1992, the UN has assessed Ireland’s progress on implementing the Convention on two separate occasions. The State is almost 18 months late with submitting its periodic progress report to the UN. We urge the Government to prioritise the completion of this State Report to ensure that Ireland both complies with its international obligations, and importantly, accounts to the Irish People for its actions in relation to children.
Jillian van Turnhout, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance, said: “Today’s anniversary is an important milestone, and a time to reflect on past achievements and future challenges. To make children’s rights a reality we must make children visible in the Constitution and work to improve the supports and services available to children and their families. Our vision is to make Ireland one of the best places in the world to be a child. Unfortunately, we must overcome many obstacles before we can reach this vision. Over 65,000 children live in consistent poverty; 1 child in every 3 in disadvantaged communities leave school with literacy problems; each year over 200 children are admitted to adult psychiatric units; approximately 50 children are detained in St Patrick’s Institution, an adult penal institution; and over 400 separated children have disappeared from HSE care, many of who are feared to have been trafficked for sexual exploitation.”
“The children born in 1992 become adults today – and earn the right to vote. Will they be given the opportunity to vote in a referendum that will grant children their rightful place in the Constitution?”
CONTACT DETAILS FOR MEDIA QUERIES:
Róisín Fitzgerald – Children’s Rights Alliance – 087 7702845
Note to Editors:
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is an internationally binding agreement on the rights of children. It incorporates children’s civil and political, social, economic and cultural rights and protection rights. In the UNCRC a child is defined as a person under the age of 18 years.
The UNCRC was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1989. Ireland signed the Convention on 30 September 1990 and ratified it on 28 September 1992. All countries in the UN have ratified the UNCRC with the exception of the United States of America and Somalia.
Ireland submitted its first State report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in 1996; and submitted its second State Report to the Committee in 2005.
The next periodic State Report was due for submission to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child on 27 April 2009.
The Children’s Rights Alliance is a coalition of over 90 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working to secure the rights and needs of children in Ireland, by campaigning for the full implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. It aims to improve the lives of all children under 18, through securing the necessary changes in Ireland’s laws, policies and services.