Wednesday 7 October 2009: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ALLIANCE URGES GREEN PARTY TO ‘SAFEGUARD CHILDREN’S FUTURES’
The Children’s Rights Alliance has called on The Green Party this week to safeguard children’s futures in its negotiations with Fianna Fáil in the review of the Programme for Government 2007 – 2012. The current programme has a total of 219 commitments that affect children’s lives, in 47 areas, ranging from the arts and education to domestic violence and child protection, including the key areas of health, education and constitutional reform. The Alliance, in its submission to both The Green Party and Fianna Fáil this week, urges both parties to ensure that these commitments are not lost during this week’s negotiations.
Mrs Jillian van Turnhout, Chief Executive of the Alliance, says: “The Green Party has been very supportive of the need to strengthen children’s rights in the Constitution. Indeed, Leader John Gormley TD, after the publication of the Ryan Report, called for constitutional reform as a fitting ‘living memorial’ to the 30,000 victims of abuse. We hope that this week’s private negotiations will reflect this public view. However, the Alliance is also very anxious about the cuts to children’s services already meted out by the Fianna Fáil and Green Party Government. Ireland is unique in that it targets children for cuts; our European partners – facing similar economic challenges – have not yet targeted cuts to vital children’s services, like education, health and social welfare, in order to reduce expenditure. These negotiations are an opportunity to reverse this policy and to start afresh and safeguard children’s futures.”
The Alliance has called for the following items to be made a priority in the negotiations this week:
• Hold a referendum to strengthen children’s rights in the Constitution by 2010.
• Provide necessary resources to achieve the full implementation of the ‘Ryan Report’ recommendations.
• Maintain the Child Benefit payment at its current level; do not cut, tax or means-test the payment.
• Work towards the introduction of a second tier payment to support children in low income families; and maintain the Qualified Child Increase payment in 2010, with a view to increasing it.
• Reverse the education cuts in Budget 2009, in particular reinstate the school book grant to non-DEIS schools.
• Provide necessary resources to support children’s health, by implementing A Vision for Change, and by ensuring that all children have access to timely and affordable therapeutic services.
• Recommit to the doubling of income limit eligibility for a medical card for parents of children under six years.
Mrs van Turnhout adds: “The Green Party is in a position of influence that can help secure the happy childhoods of hundreds and thousands of children across Ireland. We are not asking for anything new, but we are asking that those items that were committed to by the Government two years ago are delivered and not lost. Investing in children today will pay dividends tomorrow.”
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
Carys Thomas, Communications Director
Children’s Rights Alliance
Tel: (01) 662 9400 / 0877702845
Notes to Editor:
• Alliance submission to the Green Party and Fianna Fáil: http://www.childrensrights.ie/files/ChildrensRightsAllianceGreenPartyReview.pdf and http://www.childrensrights.ie/files/ChildrensRightsAllianceFiannaFailReviewProgGovt_5Oct2009.pdf
• There are a number of Alliance analyses that may be of interest:
- Alliance Analysis of the cuts suggested by the Colm McCarthy’s group ‘An Bord Snip: Cutting Childhood Short’ http://www.childrensrights.ie/files/BordSnipNuaReport310709.pdf
- Alliance Position Paper on the Child Benefit payment http://www.childrensrights.ie/files/ChildrensRightsAlliancePositionPaperChildBenefit130709.pdf
- Alliance Information Note on the Report of the Commission on Taxation http://www.childrensrights.ie/files/Alliance%20Information%20Note%20on%20the%20Commission%20on%20Taxation%20Report%20September%202009.pdf
- Alliance submission on the Ryan Report ‘Learning from the Past: Responding to the Recommendations of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse’ http://www.childrensrights.ie/files/RespondingRecommendationsCommissionInquireChildAbuse240609.pdf
• Budget 2009 rowed back on a series of commitments in the Programme for Government, including teacher numbers and class size; capitation grants for schools; Junior Certificate Schools Programme and Leaving Cert Applied; school libraries; supports for children with special educational needs; and language support. The Alliance is calling on the Green Party to reinstate these.