The Children's Referendum: The Time is now for Children’s Rights in our Constitution

Edel Quinn is a member of the Legal and Policy team at the Children’s Rights Alliance.  The Alliance is a coalition of over 100 organisations working to secure the rights of children in Ireland, by campaigning for the full implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. It aims to improve the lives of all children under 18, through securing the necessary changes in Ireland’s laws, policies and services.

It may not feel like it, but we are living in privileged times.  In two weeks’ from now, on Saturday 10 November, we will be presented with an historic opportunity to amend our Constitution to strengthen the rights of the children of Ireland.  It was over 30 years ago that the first call to do so was made by then Senator and former President Mary Robinson.  This call was repeated by various official reports, such as the Kilkenny Incest Investigation Report in 1993, the Constitution Review Group in 1996 and that of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2006.  In spite of the 17 statutory reports detailing the abuse suffered by children in Ireland over the past four decades that flagged the Constitution as a problem, this is the first time that such an amendment will be put to the people.  The Children’s Referendum is possible today because of a unique set of circumstances: the achievement of a workable framework for the amendment, an amenable political environment, public awareness and will for change.

The Children’s Rights Alliance has been lobbying hard for constitutional change since its establishment in 1995.  Over the past seven years, the Alliance has made key interventions to the various Ministers as well as the Joint Committee on the Constitutional Amendment on Children to advocate for a comprehensive amendment.  We have previously made the case for reform on this blog and while the final amendment is not as strong as we would have liked, we believe it deserves our full backing.  The judiciary will ultimately Continue reading “The Children's Referendum: The Time is now for Children’s Rights in our Constitution”

The Children's Referendum: The Time is now for Children’s Rights in our Constitution