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Sinn Féin participation on child protection committee essential

6 July, 2006


Sinn Fein Dail leader and spokesperson for Health and Children Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD today opposed the exclusive make-up of the government's child protection committee. Deputy Ó Caoláin accused the Government of going back on a promise it made to both the public.

He said, "After Mr. A was released and when public attention was focused on the issue the government announced that an All Party committee would be established to address all the issues arising. A fax from the Minister's office last month referred explicitly to the All Party nature of the committee. By limiting participation in the committee the government has now gone back on the commitment made by them to the public. By denying both Sinn Fein and the Green Party a seat on this committee the government is refusing the public that we each represent a voice in the crucial field of child protection.

"If this committee is to achieve its objectives it is essential that is inclusive of all parties.

"The fact that both the Labour Party and Fine Gael refused to vote in favour of a more inclusive committee membership clearly demonstrates the closed doors that would surround decision making in their dream government.

"Sinn Féin facilitated the passing of the emergency legislation to fill the gap in the law that allowed a convicted sex offender to walk free. However, Sinn Féin had serious concerns about that legislation. We are particularly concerned with the current situation where, for example, a 16-year-old boy who has consensual sexual intercourse with a 16-year-old girl is guilty of a crime. That position is untenable and we are seeking to have this and related issues addressed in law as soon as possible. Our participation on this on this committee is essential to the achievement of socially effective and realistic recommendations." ENDS

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