Monday, September 24, 2012

Children’s Referendum will mean all children are treated equally

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has today (Monday) said that passing the upcoming Children’s Referendum will mean that all children are treated equally. The Referendum will be held on Saturday, November 10th.

“The best place for a child is with their family. But for a small number, this is unfortunately not the case. When children are being abused or neglected, we need to ensure a system is in place where decisions are taken in their best interest. The Children’s Referendum will make this possible. 

“By voting Yes to the Referendum, we will be giving children individual rights for the first time. Our Constitution defines this country, and it is long overdue that we put children at the centre of it. By failing to properly recognise children’s rights up until now, we have failed children. We need only to look at the litany of horrific abuse cases to come to light in recent years for proof of this failure. 

“It is important to stress that this is not about micro-managing families. The Referendum deliberately refers to ‘exceptional cases’ and ‘proportionate’ intervention. There are more than one million children in this country. Last year there were 1,500 confirmed cases of sexual, physical or emotional abuse of children. We must do everything we can to protect this small and vulnerable minority. By passing the Referendum, we will ensure every decision taken on behalf of these children is focussed on their best interests. 

“Another very important aspect of the Referendum and the supporting legislation is its impact on abortion. It will mean that children who have been abandoned have the right to be adopted, regardless of the marital status of their parents. All children should be subject to the same rights and protections; each child in this country must be treated equally in the eyes of the State and society. A Yes vote in the Referendum will make this a reality.

“I am very encouraged that there has been such a whole-hearted and positive response to the wording of the Referendum by a variety of children’s groups. I think everyone can agree that we must do our utmost to protect vulnerable children. This Referendum is just one section of a suite of measures being implemented by the Government to safeguard children. All of this action is long overdue; in fact, we’ve been waiting 20 years for this Referendum and for the rights it will give children. Let’s not wait any longer to put that protection in place.”

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