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Taoiseach should call meeting of all parties in effort to get consensus for children's rights referendum - McDonald

27 February, 2007


Sinn Féin MEP Mary Lou McDonald speaking in Dublin today said that the party has written to the Taoiseach today asking him to convene a meeting with representatives of all parties in the Dáil to determine whether there is enough of a consensus to move ahead with the referendum on children's rights.

Ms. McDonald said, "There is much coverage in the media today of issues relating to child sexual abuse - a Garda being investigated under suspicion of arranging the sexual exploitation of a 14 year old boy by a number of adults; the seizure of 2 computers after Gardaí finally acted on the tip-off from Austrian police who had broken an international child pornography ring; and the impending release of a man, sentenced to a total of 109 years, at the centre of the swimming association scandal which finally brought crimes of child abuse into public awareness. All of this highlights the urgency of Constitutional reform to protect children.

"We believe that the necessary process to achieve much needed Constitutional changes should be commenced without any further delay. Sinn Féin believes that the referendum Bill while deficient in many respects does amount to progress for children. The Taoiseach has said that he will only go ahead with the referendum if there is all party agreement. We have written to the Taoiseach asking him to convene a meeting with representatives of all parties in the Dáil to determine whether there is enough of a consensus to bring the Bill to the next stage.

"Sinn Féin will seek to add new provisions and safeguards to the proposed Constitutional amendment as it passes through the various stages but we believe it is time to get the ball rolling. The sooner formal debate on the Bill is commenced the more time there will be to ensure full human rights compliance and that we get the best out of it for children. Children should not be made to wait any longer." ENDS

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