By Jillian van Turnhout
“Sinn Féin and the Labour Party have tabled a motion for debate in the Dáil today and tomorrow, seeking to establish the necessary Constitutional Amendment Bill that will set a date for the holding of a referendum in 2010 to enshrine and enhance the protection of the rights of children. The Children’s Rights Alliance warmly welcomes this development. With the final children’s rights report of the Joint Committee on the Constitutional Amendment on Children published on 16 February 2010, it is now time for Government to take action and that we, as a society, unite to ensure that they have no choice but to act. The Alliance has already recorded its deep concern that the Cabinet has not yet considered the Joint Committee’s final report, nor sought the advice of the Attorney General.
“Crucially, the Joint Committee’s final report included all-party agreement on a proposed wording for a constitutional amendment to strengthen children’s rights, yet the Government continues to drag its feet on the issue. Given each of the political parties’ General Election manifestos in May 2007, the Programme for Government, and the Renewed Programme for Government including a commitment to strengthen children’s rights in the Constitution, as well as a financial commitment of €3m in last year’s Budget, we fail to understand the delay.
“At the most fundamental level, we want each and every child to have a decent childhood; the Constitution should enable this to happen – it should not be a barrier. As a coalition of over 90 NGOs working for the rights and needs of children in Ireland, the Alliance categorically believes that it is now time to bring Ireland closer to securing constitutional change that will make a real and positive difference to all children in Ireland. We call on all TDs to support the motion and urge the Government to set a date for a referendum to strengthen children’s rights in the Constitution.”
Jillian van Turnhout