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Referendum on children’s rights overdue – Ó Caoláin

6 January, 2011 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has welcomed what he called the “long overdue” news that the Cabinet has agreed wording for a children’s rights amendment to the Constitution, as announced by Minister of State for Children Barry Andrews. Deputy Ó Caoláin, who was a member of the Joint Committee on the Constitutional Amendment on Children, said:

“A referendum to strengthen the rights of children in the Constitution is long overdue. The news that the Cabinet has finally agreed a wording is welcome. However, we must reserve judgement on the wording until it is published. This should be done immediately and I have written to the Minister of State for Children, Barry Andrews TD, urging publication of the proposed constitutional amendment.

“The Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Constitutional Amendment on Children, of which I was a member, did a huge amount of work, consulted widely and drew on a large body of research, before framing the wording which was finally agreed by all parties. As the Government in the person of Minister of State Andrews was party to this agreed wording, I have repeatedly urged that this should be the constitutional amendment put before the people in a referendum. We must now assess to what extent that wording has been diluted.

“The issue here is the protection of children in the Constitution, in law and in practice. Constitutional and legal changes will be worthless unless they provide the basis for improving the lives of children, especially those vulnerable to abuse and neglect.” ENDS

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