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Amendment is about children’s rights not power of the State – Ó Caoláin

4 November, 2012 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

With six days to go to the Children’s Referendum Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Children Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has renewed his party’s call for a ‘Yes’ vote and addressed what he called the understandable concern that the constitutional amendment could give too much power to the State as against parents.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said: 

“The Children’s Referendum has been relatively low key so far but very many people are engaged and are keen to find out more. In canvassing for a ‘Yes’ vote, one of the main concerns encountered by Sinn Féin activists has been that the amendment could give too much power to the State with regard to children as against parents. This is an understandable concern, given the dreadful past record of the State as far as vulnerable children were concerned. 

“It is vital to make clear that the purpose of this amendment is to get the balance right for children. It is especially important for vulnerable children to ensure that all possible legal safeguards are in place to protect them. 

“This is about the rights of children, not the power of the State. There is no question of the State being empowered to swoop in and take children away from parents. Only in exceptional circumstances where children require urgent intervention can this take place and it must be proportionate. 

“The Constitution, the laws and State services need to be in place to support children and parents. This amendment is a step in the right direction. We in Sinn Féin will be holding this Government to account and pressing for the services and resources needed. A ‘Yes’ vote will enhance that effort, increasing the obligation on the State and on this and future Governments to vindicate children’s rights not only in words but in actions also.”  

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