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Sinn Féin calls for children’s rights referendum

28 March, 2011 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

Speaking today following comments by the Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald that the government will hold a referendum on children’s rights during 2011, Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Children Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin urged the Minister to hold the referendum sooner using the wording contained in the Final Report of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Constitutional Amendment on Children.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said;

“The members of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Constitutional Amendment on Children unanimously agreed a formula of words to enshrine children’s rights in the Constitution. The members who agreed to the wording set out by the Committee, included the Minister herself and her Fine Gael party colleagues. The Labour Party further endorsed this specific wording in a Joint Private Members Motion with Sinn Féin in 2010.

“The Minister has now said that she would look at this wording as well as the different wording subsequently proposed by the then Fianna Fáil/Green Party. During the election campaign, Fine Gael said that a referendum on children’s rights would be a “real priority” for a Fine Gael-led administration and that they would aim to hold the referendum in conjunction with the Presidential election later in the year.

“I am now calling on the Minister for Children to bring forward the appropriate constitutional amendment Bill as a matter of urgency. Sinn Féin has consistently stated that enshrining children’s rights cannot wait any longer. Children must be protected in the Constitution. The Minister has the opportunity to do this, and cannot delay the matter any longer if the lives of children are to be improved.”

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