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Sinn Féin seeks to strengthen Children and Family Relationships Bill – McLellan

24 February, 2015


Speaking today during the Children and Family Relationships Bill, Sinn Féin's Spokesperson on Children’s Affairs Sandra McLellan said that although Sinn Féin will be seeking to strengthen the Bill in parts, on the whole, the Bill enshrines key principles of the children’s referendum into law.

Deputy McLellan said:

“The Children and Family Relationships Bill represents the most important reform of child and family law for a generation. The proposed legislation seeks to put children at the heart of family law. This is right and long overdue. It will provide legal clarity around various family types and address the crucial issue of discrimination faced by children in non- marital families.”

“Overall, this Bill provides legal clarity on parentage, guardianship, custody and access for all families in Ireland. Many unmarried fathers mistakenly believed that they held legal rights to their children as long as their names were on their birth certificates. It is past time that defined rights were put in place.”

“It's vital to note that this bill and the upcoming same-sex marriage referendum are separate issues. The referendum in May is a referendum on marriage equality and the only question people are being asked is: ‘Should gay and lesbian couples be allowed to get married?’  The May Referendum does not in any way deal with the rights of the child, and the two issues should not be confused.”

“Although we in Sinn Fein broadly support the Children and Family Relationships Bill, we believe there are some areas in which the Bill can be improved. We will be seeking to strengthen it in parts through our own amendments. However, on the whole, the Bill enshrines key principles of the children’s referendum into law. We endorse the proposed bill and commend the Justice Minister for pressing it forward.” 

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