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Sinn Féin challenge ‘lesser’ legal protection for children

16 February, 2007

Sinn Féin's spokesperson on Children & Young People, West Belfast Assembly candidate, Sue Ramsey has said that legislation in place that provides a lesser standard of protection for children and young people against assault than for adults is clearly in violation of equality and human rights law.

Sue Ramsey said:

"Last June Sinn Féin made a formal complaint to the Equality Commission with a view to seeking an investigation into why the Office of Law Reform had failed to carry out an equality impact assessment to establish any likely adverse effects of this policy.

"It is Sinn Féin's view that the Office of Law Reform set aside the letter and the spirit of Section 75 in this instance by failing to take proper account of issues which should clearly have compelled it to further scrutinise the import of the policy given its far-reaching consequences on the lives and treatment of children and young people, whether in the home, in schools or in any other setting.

"Equality law cannot be allowed to be viewed by public bodies as a bureaucratic hindrance that is seen as process-driven, not outcome driven. It must start to be seen as a valuable tool that can, if complied with fully, be a positive lever for real change within our society. Sinn Féin believes that in this instance the Office of Law Reform put process before its wider equality responsibilities which fed negatively into a law being passed that now violates children's fundamental rights.

"Sinn Féin also impressed on the Equality Commission that during his brief spell in Belfast recently the Commissioner of the Council of Europe, Mr Thomas Hammerberg had called on the British government and those few other states who supported this law to have it repealed as it contravenes the UN's Convention on the Rights of the Child." ENDS

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