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McDowell should accept decision on Irish-born children - Ó Snodaigh

15 November, 2006

Commenting on yesterday’s High Court ruling which found the state to be in breach of the Constitutional rights of Irish-born children with non-national parents Sinn Féin Justice spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD condemned the failure of the Government to take heed of Sinn Féin's warnings. He was speaking ahead of raising the issue in the Dáil later today.


The Dublin South-Central TD said: "Yesterday's ruling vindicates the position held by Sinn Féin that the Minister's practice of refusing the parents of Irish born children leave to remain in the country is far from being in the child's best interests and as such is in breach of their fundamental and Constitutional rights.


“But there is a bigger picture that the court was not in a position to rule on. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child prohibits the state from discriminating against all children regardless of whether they were born here themselves or their parents' nationality.  But under current Government policy institutional racism in the form of discriminatory practices against certain groups of children is endemic.


“The condemnation of asylum seeking children to the system of direct provision, the housing of separated or unaccompanied children in private hostels falling outside the remit of the Social Services Inspectorate, and restrictions introduced in May 2004 compromising the previously universal nature of child benefit all amount to practices which breach the fundamental rights of all children.


“Yesterday's ruling is yet another reminder of the urgent need for the Constitution to be amended to include an article protecting the rights of children. The Government’s indication that a referendum will take place on the issue is long overdue. But we also urgently need a range of measures to be introduced to give effect to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, to reverse the government's current discriminatory practices and to ensure that the rights of all children in the state are protected.


“The Minister should accept the Courts decision. To appeal the ruling would be wrong, it would be a waste of public money and it would exacerbate the mental anguish and confusion of the 500 odd families affected.”


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