No Persuasive Arguments Against Holding Children’s Rights Referendum, Says White

Published date: 
12 May 2010

“There are no persuasive arguments” against holding a referendum to strengthen children’s rights in the Constitution, according to Senator Alex White, the Labour Spokesperson on Children, in the latest edition of the Children’s Rights Alliance Podcast Series, out today.  However, it transpired in the Oireachtas, yesterday, during an exchange between the Taoiseach and opposition leaders, Enda Kenny TD, and Eamon Gilmore TD, that the Cabinet has not yet considered the Joint Committee on the Constitutional Amendment on Children Report, despite receiving it months ago.  Consequently, the advice of the Attorney General has not yet been sought.  The Government has been accused of neglecting its commitments to children’s rights; Labour has since tabled a motion for a debate in the Dáil next week seeking to establish the necessary Constitutional Amendment Bill that will set a date, this year, for the holding of a referendum to enshrine and enhance the protection of the rights of children.

Mrs Jillian van Turnhout, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance, says: “Senator Alex White is a children’s rights champion and quite rightly points out that strengthening children’s rights in the Constitution would only serve to change things for the better – and for all concerned: for children, families and society as a whole.   Senator White believes that people would be surprised to hear that children, in the main, do not have rights as individuals in their own right; and that strengthening children’s rights in the Constitution would only be a positive advance for children and for the country.  Here is an issue that has all-party agreement, yet the Government is dragging its heels and Cabinet has not set aside time to review this very important Report.  What are they waiting for?  Senator White argues that the recommendations are ‘all positive’ and he is absolutely correct in this assertion – and I urge Government to now set a date for a referendum.”

The final report of the Joint Committee on the Constitutional Amendment on Children was published on 16 February.  Crucially, it included all-party agreement on a proposed wording for a constitutional amendment to strengthen children’s rights.  The Alliance is on record as stating that this brings Ireland closer to securing constitutional change that will make a real and positive difference to all children in Ireland. 

Senator White is the second guest speaker in a special series of podcast interviews with members of the Joint Committee that can be found on the Alliance web site at; the Alliance will also upload the podcast interviews with Fine Gael Spokesperson for Children, Alan Shatter TD and Sinn Fein Spokesperson for Children, Caoimhghín O’Caoláin TD in the coming weeks.  The podcast interview featuring Mary O’Rourke TD, Chair of the Joint Committee on the Constitutional Amendment on Children, was published on 26 April 2010.


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Notes to Editor:

  1. The Children’s Rights Podcast Series is available at **from 1pm ** or each podcast can also be downloaded from iTunes. In the Advanced menu, click Subscribe to Podcast and add the following URL
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