Children’s Referendum must be kept high on agenda

Fine Gael Senator, Imelda Henry, has called for the Children’s Referendum to be kept high on the national agenda.

Fine Gael Senator, Imelda Henry, has called for the Children’s Referendum to be kept high on the national agenda.

Speaking in the Seanad, Senator Henry urged the Minister for Children, Frances Fitzgerald, to ensure that the public is provided with sufficient information when the time comes to hold the referendum.

“Much discussion and public debate is understandably turning to the referendum on the Stability Treaty, following the Government’s announcement last week that a public vote would be held. However, while space must be given to debate the merits of the Treaty and its contents, it’s crucial that Government plans to hold the Children’s Referendum this year are not side-lined,” she said.

“This Government demonstrated its commitment to placing children’s issues at the heart of the national agenda by creating the role of a dedicated Minister for Children for the first time. In its first year in office, the Government has made significant strides in ensuring that our children are better supported and protected. Work is underway to establish a new Child and Family Support Agency, and funding continues to be prioritised for early education and childcare services. The Criminal Justice (Withholding Information on Crimes Against Children and Vulnerable Adults) Bill is a progressive and far reaching piece of legislation that will advance the protection of children within Irish society.

“However, I believe all of this good work must be further enhanced by enshrining the rights of the child in the Constitution. I welcome confirmation from Minister Fitzgerald that the Children’s Referendum will be stand-alone, and that she remains committed to holding it this year.

“A national public information campaign must be held when the time comes around for the Children’s Referendum. It will only be passed through full engagement with the people. I have also called on the Minister to make known as soon as possible when she expects to be in a position to publish the proposed wording of the referendum.”