The Constitution: Publication of the Second Interim Report of the Joint Committee on the Constitutional Amendment on Children

Published date: 
6 May 2009

***Press Statement***
Jillian van Turnhout, Children’s Rights Alliance

Publication of the Second Interim Report of the Joint Committee on the Constitutional Amendment on Children

“Today saw the welcome publication of the second report by the Joint Committee on the Constitutional Amendment on Children, and its recommendations relating to the creation of absolute or strict liability offences in respect of sexual offences involving children.  What is particularly welcome is that the Committee’s report (the second of a series of three) is comprehensive and addresses complex issues that will help safeguard children in the judicial system.  We also welcome the publication of individual submissions to the Committee, indicating its awareness of the need for greater transparency.  The Alliance strongly endorses the need to put in place as robust a child protection system as possible, that protects child victims and witnesses in sexual abuse trials.  

The ball is now in the Government’s court.  Given the huge amount of time and careful debate that has gone into this sensitive issue, the Alliance now urges the Government to act on the Committee’s recommendations with haste; many of which were raised by the Alliance.  It is all the more urgent that the Government acts immediately, given that a significant number of the 39 recommendations remain outstanding from the 2006 Joint Committee on Child Protection.  Lack of action is extremely disappointing. And we have already been deeply disappointed that the recommendations of the Committee’s first report, relating to soft information, have not yet materalised.  We do not want the same to happen with the second report.  Crippling delays come at a price – the price of broken childhoods.

Children’s rights must now come to the fore of the Committee’s work.  Consequently, it was very welcome to hear the Committee Chair, Mary O’Rourke TD, state that the Committee would now turn to the third and hugely important element of their work, namely the strengthening of children’s rights in the Constitution.  We urge the Committee to now focus on formulating a wording for a constitutional amendment by October, in order to safeguard the rights of the over one million children living in Ireland.  And with the State about to report on its implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, it is crucial that focus is maintained.  Constitutional change is essential to make Ireland one of the best places in the world to be a child.”

Jillian van Turnhout
Chief Executive

For further information, please contact:
Carys Thomas, Communications Director
Tel: (01) 662 9400 / 0877702845; Fax: (01) 662 9355

Notes to Editor:
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Children's Rights Alliance