Government dishonest on children's rights - Ó Caoláin
Speaking ahead of Minister Brian Lenihan's presentation to a UN special committee hearing on children's rights in Geneva, Sinn Féin Health and Children spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin accused the Minister of attempting to 'defend the indefensible'. Deputy Ó Caoláin ridiculed Minister Lenihan's claim that he was examining the possibility of a referendum on children's rights, pointing out that when Fianna Fáil had the 'opportunity to support such a measure, they refused to do so' at the Oireachtas All-Party Committee on the Constitution.
The Cavan-Monaghan TD said: "The statement from Minister for Children Brian Lenihan TD that he is to examine the possibility of holding a referendum to insert children's rights into the Constitution cannot be taken seriously. It is nothing more than an attempt to hide from the government's appalling track record on the issue of children's rights and to defend the indefensible.
"The proof of this is the failure of the Oireachtas All-Party Committee on the Constitution in its review earlier this year of the constitutional provisions dealing with family and the rights of the child. The minimalist wording that came from the Committee does not address the issue highlighted specifically in the Kilkenny Incest Report as noted in our submission. This fell short of what many, including Barnados, the Law Society and importantly the Ombudsman for Children, were seeking.
"Demonstrating once again the reality that there is little difference in the Coalition options being presented to the voters at present, Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the PDs combined to oppose a comprehensive constitutional article on the rights of the child as proposed by Sinn Féin in our submission.
"Minister of State Lenihan is being entirely disingenuous by now saying that they are planning a new review of the Constitution. He is attempting to mislead the public and the special UN committee in Geneva in relation to the Governments position on the inclusion of a comprehensive article on the rights of the child in the Constitution. When his party had the opportunity to support such a measure, they refused to do so."
Note to newsroom: Copies of the Sinn Féin submission available on request