Children's rights sacrificed to Government's anti-immigrant agenda - Ó Caoláin
Sinn Féin’s Dáil Leader and Spokesperson on Children Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has pledged his support to the campaign by Free Legal Advice Centres for the restoration of universal child benefit.
Speaking on International Children’s Day the Cavan-Monaghan TD said, “Child benefit, or children’s allowance, is a benefit that should be available to all children in the State as of right. Prior to May 2004 that was indeed the case. The Government quite appropriately resisted any suggestion that the benefit should be means tested or subjected to any other conditions. This was a courageous policy, in keeping with the promise of the 1916 Proclamation to cherish all the children of the nation equally.
“The Government’s decision in May 2004 to subject child benefit to the new Habitual Residence Condition was a retrograde step. It has legalised discrimination against children based upon the immigration status of their parents. This is in direct contravention of Article 2 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and is also inconsistent with the Government’s own Anti-Poverty, Anti-Racism and Equality strategies.
“Nor can this policy be justified on economic grounds. According to the Children’s Rights Alliance, the number of children presently ineligible for the allowance is around 2,280. No one can seriously argue that this Government cannot afford to restore the benefit to all of them.
“The truth of the matter is that these children are being sacrificed to the FF/PD Coalition’s broader agenda of wanting to look tough on immigration. The remote possibility of deterring economically unproductive migrants through this policy apparently holds more weight with this Government than the very real harm the policy is doing to those children already here.
“The refusal to restore this allowance makes a mockery of the Government’s newly-discovered concern for the rights of children. I commend FLAC for this initiative and pledge my full support. Sinn Féin will be calling for the restoration of universal child benefit in our 2007 Pre-Budget Submission, to be launched on Thursday this week.”