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Sinn Féin welcomes report from Children’s Committee

7 May, 2009 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Children Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin today gave a cautious welcome to the Second Interim Report from the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Constitutional Amendment on Children and called on the Government to act on its recommendations.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

"I welcome this report. Many of the proposals that Sinn Féin brought to the Committee are encompassed within it including proposals to draft a new robust and specific law prohibiting child sexual abuse; a complete review of sexual offences legislation; non-discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender; non-criminalising of peers who engage in consensual non-exploitative sexual activity; the special circumstances that must apply to cases involving victims or witnesses with an intellectual disability; and further recommendations regarding non-penal and age appropriate alternatives to prosecution in certain circumstances.

"It is unfortunate that the Committee could not reach an agreement on the issue of absolute liability aside from where a person is in a position of authority. Sinn Féin sought an absolute zone of protection for those under the age of 14. We also argued that no child between the ages of 12 and 18 should be automatically prosecuted for an age of consent related offence.

"Sinn Féin believes that we must ensure that children be protected from exploitation but must also uphold the right of the accused to have a fair trial. This report is a step in the right direction. Sinn Féin looks forward to continuing to work within the Committee towards enshrining the rights of children in the Constitution." ENDS

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