Thursday 7 June 2012: For immediate release
Alliance Welcomes Government Decision to Ban Children from Entering Defence Forces
Statement by Tanya Ward, Chief Executive
The Government’s decision to raise the minimum age of recruitment to the Permanent Defence Forces from 17 to 18 years, announced this week, has been warmly welcomed by the Children’s Rights Alliance.
Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance, says: “The decision to raise the minimum age of entry to the Permanent Defence Forces is a hugely positive step for children’s rights in Ireland – it is effectively a ban on children entering the Defence Forces. The Alliance raised this issue in our Shadow Report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2007 and we congratulate the Government on this important step.
“Ireland is proud of its defence forces and, in particular, their participation in the UN peace keeping missions. The Alliance believes that the Government’s decision is a step closer to align our domestic policies and laws on children with international human rights obligations and good practice.
“That said, clarity is needed on whether the age of recruitment for apprentices (currently 16 years) and for members of the Reserve Defence Forces (currently 17 years) is also being raised to 18 years. We will be writing to the Minister for Justice and Equality, Alan Shatter TD, to clarify this. The question also remains as to whether the minimum age will apply in emergency situations. Should the Government instigate these additional steps, Ireland would have a clean bill of health in terms of its international obligations relating to children and armed conflict, thereby securing Ireland’s position as a leader on the international human rights stage.”
Notes to Editor:
Raising the minimum age of all military recruitment to 18 years would allow Ireland to withdraw its declaration under Article 3 of the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict.
For more information, please contact:
Carys Thomas, Communications Director
Mob: +353 87 7702845