The Children’s Rights Alliance is disappointed that the Joint Committee on the Constitutional Amendment on Children needs a further six months, until 16 October, to make its final report to the Oireachtas. You couldn’t script that this third delay to the Committee’s work was announced by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Barry Andrews TD, at our symposium entitled , Children’s Rights in Ireland: Are We There Yet? Are We There Yet? Are We There Yet?, in Dublin Castle yesterday (2 April). Also at this major symposium, nearly 200 delegates joined the President of Ireland, Mary McAleese and the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Barry Andrews TD, in signing a personal pledge to ‘value children rights and make Ireland one of the best places in the world to be a child’.
This is another clear indication that we are far from arriving at our destination – we are certainly not there yet. Mary O’Rourke and members of the Joint Committee are currently in the driving seat and each and every one of them have a crucial role to play in getting Ireland to its destination: ‘to make Ireland one of the best places in the world to be a child’. Inexplicably, after seeing the same signs, travelling down the same old roads, encircling the same old roundabouts, we have once again stopped the car, turned off the ignition and we find ourselves on the hard shoulder. Have we broken down? Have we run out of petrol? Are the drivers merely consulting maps?
We are, of course, disappointed by this further delay. But we are far more disappointed that we are not told the cause of the delay. What is galling is that we have not been given a detailed explanation as to why we are on the hard shoulder. The children’s rights amendment is complex but why will the Committee not give us a progress report? Any organisation worth its salt keeps its stakeholders informed. Every good parent who is asked ‘Are we there yet?’, at least explains to children how far they have come, the distance that needs to be travelled and why they are on the hard shoulder.
It is now time for transparency. Nearly all of the Joint Committee’s deliberations are made in private and this should no longer continue. We need to hear members speak, they have been elected by the people of Ireland to serve the people of Ireland and we have the right to hear what they have to say about children. We are frustrated. The children of Ireland are waiting. Yesterday’s symposium was a stark reminder of the need for a constitutional amendment on children’s rights. We cannot afford to put the next generation’s future on the ‘long finger’.”
Jillian van Turnhout
For further information, please contact:
Carys Thomas, Communications Director
Tel: (01) 662 9400 / 087-7702845
Fax: (01) 662 9355