EMBARGO: 00.01 Saturday 20 Nov 2010
Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Barry Andrews, TD, expressed his hope that constitutional reform will be the “lasting legacy of the Convention in this country”. The Minister was speaking as part of the Children’s Rights Alliance podcast series. His interview was published today (20 Nov 2010) to mark the 21st anniversary of the adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child by the UN General Assembly. The Minister also said that “there could be no better way to mark it [UNCRC] in this country, than during the course of its 21st year, to have a referendum that puts children at the centre of our Constitution.”
Speaking about the proposed constitutional amendment, Minister Andrews acknowledged that frustration exists about the delay in progress since the publication in February of the report of the Joint Committee on the Constitutional Amendment on Children. He added that work on the wording is “nearly finished” and expressed confidence that the Government will recommend a “child-centred, stand-alone article” in the Constitution, by way of a referendum proposal, which can be put to the People and that we can “have a proper debate as to where we see children in our legal infrastructure”.
The Minister said he aims to ensure that the wording will be as faithful as possible, to the policy and the principles behind the Committee’s wording. However, he warned that “it is very important that we get it right as it is hopefully a measure that will last for many many decades”. The Minister concluded by saying that a constitutional referendum “could be as early as the first quarter of next year”, but he warned that he is careful about making “hostages to fortune.”
The podcast covers a range of topics, including the Minister’s reflections on the forthcoming budget. In addition, the Minister reiterated that policies affecting children must be child-centered. He spoke of the challenge of getting “Government paid authorities [to] talk to each other, and make sure that the service provided to the child is wrapped around the child and not delivered in a way to suit the agency…. It is easy to say… but it is a massive, massive challenge.” He acknowledged the importance of mainstreaming children’s rights and commented that: “There is no nirvana. There’s no day when you can stop having a Minister for Children or stop having a Children’s Rights Alliance or even a Convention. It is a constant work that has to be done at all times”.
Jillian van Turnhout, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance, said: “The Alliance believes that to make children’s rights a reality we must make children visible in the Constitution. It is our duty to provide them with legislative protection to safeguard their childhood. To make this happen we need political will and leadership – we need champions for children’s rights. The Alliance has begun to gather pledges from individual TDs and Senators from across all the parties to lend their support for “the holding of a referendum to strengthen children’s rights in the Irish Constitution”. To view the Pledge Wall log onto www.childrensrights.ie
CONTACT DETAILS FOR MEDIA QUERIES:
Róisín Fitzgerald - Communication Officer– Children’s Rights Alliance – 087 7702845
Note to Editors:
This edition of the Children’s Rights Podcast Series is available at http://childrensrights-ie.access.secure-ssl-servers.biz/files/MinisterPodcast191110.mp3 or can be downloaded from iTunes (in the iTunes Advanced menu, click Subscribe to Podcast and add the following URL http://www.childrensrights.ie/PodCasts/podcasts.xml)
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child addresses injustices specifically experienced by children (all those under 18 years). It recognises that children have separate and additional needs from those of adults. It incorporates children's civil and political rights (such as a child’s right to a name and nationality); social, economic and cultural rights (such as a right to education); and protection rights (from abuse, exploitation and trafficking). Almost all countries have ratified the UNCRC, with the exception of the United States of America and Somalia.
In 1992, the then Minister for Foreign Affairs, David Andrews, TD, ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on behalf of the Irish State. Now, 18 years on, David Andrews’ son Barry Andrews, in his role as Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, is charged with political responsibility within the Cabinet for progressing Ireland’s implementation of the Convention. Ireland submitted two progress reports to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child since ratification in 1992. The State’s next periodic report was due for submission on 27 April 2009. The State is now over 18 months late with submitting its periodic progress report to the UN.
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.