LAB/SF DAIL MOTION SEEKS ENDORSEMENT FOR WORDING OF CHILDREN’S AMENDMENT
The Dail will next week debate a joint Labour Party/ Sinn Fein seeking the endorsement of the House for the wording of the proposed constitutional amendment on the rights of children and calling on the government to bring forward the necessary Constitutional Amendment Bill and set a date in this year for the holding of a referendum. (Copy of full motion attached)
On February 16th last the Joint Committee on the Constitutional Amendment on Children, chaired by Deputy Mary O’Rourke, published its final report. The report contained a draft constitutional amendment concerning the acknowledgement and protection of the rights of children, the best interests of the child, the power of the state to intervene in the family, and adoption.
The report had the support of all members, but since then the government has failed to give a commitment that it will accept the draft amendment and refused to set any date for a referendum.
The Labour Party Spokesperson on Constitutional Matters and Law Reform, Deputy Brendan Howlin said:
“The publication of the Report last February was the culmination of two years of work by the Committee during which it held dozens of meetings and considered submissions from scores of groups and individuals. It was probably the most comprehensive examination ever undertaken of the complex issues involved in trying to enshrine and enhance the protection of the right of children.
“One of the most encouraging aspects of the Committee’s work was the manner in which members of all parties worked in a non-partisan way to deal with the issues involved and the final report had the support of all members, representing every party in the Oireachtas.
“It is simply not acceptable that three months after its publication, the government should be claiming that it still has not considered the report and refusing to give any commitment as to when a referendum might be held. This suggests that the government – as distinct from the government Deputies and Senators who served on the Committee – is not attaching any political priority to the needs of our children. In these circumstances we feel that we therefore have to attempt to move the process forward by bringing this motion on to the floor of the Dail.”
Sinn Féin Health & Children spokesperson and Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said:
"There is a pressing need for the rights of children to be vindicated in the Constitution, in legislation and in the provision of services. The Joint Committee on the Constitutional Amendment on Children completed a major body of work, making comprehensive recommendations and achieving all-party agreement on the wording of a constitutional amendment. We had every reason to expect that, long before now, the Cabinet would have signed off on a firm commitment to hold the referendum. Instead we find, after repeated questioning of the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste, that the Government is still sitting on the fence on this vital issue.
"The issue here is the rights and needs of children. The recent Report of the Children's Ombudsman exposed many failings in the system of child protection. We need to copper-fasten in the Constitution the rights of all children. There is no excuse for prevarication on this issue. The Government should follow the lead given by the members of the government parties on the Committee and agree to the wording and set a date for a referendum in 2010. They can do this by accepting the joint Labour/Sinn Féin motion."
CONTACT BRENDAN HOWLIN @ 087-2314671 OR TONY HEFFERNAN (LABOUR PRESS OFFICE) @ 087-2399508
OR SHAUN TRACEY (SINN FEIN PRESS OFFICE) @ 087-7735218.
NOTICE OF MOTION
That Dail Eireann:
welcomes the Final Report of the Joint Committee on the Constitutional Amendment on Children, published on February 16th, 2010;
commends the members of the Committee for the manner in which they discharged their duties and the fact that cross-party consensus was achieved on this issue;
accepts the need for a constitutional amendment to enshrine and enhance the protection of the rights of children;
endorses the draft wording for a proposed constitutional amendment, contained in the report of the Committee;
calls on the government to bring forward the necessary Constitutional Amendment Bill and to set a date in this year for the holding of a referendum.