Irish children's charities urge 'yes' vote in constitutional referendum

Irish children's charities urge 'yes' vote in constitutional referendum

By staff writers
10 Nov 2012

Yes for Children, a national campaign led by Barnardos, the Children’s Rights Alliance, the ISPCC and Campaign for Children, is urging a 'yes' vote in the Irish children's referendum vote on Saturday 10 November 2012.

The vote would amend the Constitution of Ireland by repealing Article 42.5 and inserting a new Article 42A.

The section to be deleted reads: "In exceptional cases, where the parents for physical or moral reasons fail in their duty towards their children, the State as guardian of the common good, by appropriate means shall endeavour to supply the place of the parents, but always with due regard for the natural and imprescriptible rights of the child."

The new article, which lays out a more detailed and specific set of obligations regarding the rights of children, is reproduced below in full.

The Yes for Children national campaign believes that a positive referendum outcome will: provide the highest level of legal protection to vulnerable children and more support to families; allow up to 2,000 children, in long-term state care, to be adopted and given a second chance at a loving, stable and permanent family; ensure the best interests and views of children are at the heart of decisions made by child care and family law courts; and set out what Ireland is as a country and how it values children.

Fergus Finlay, Chief Executive of Barnardos, said: "This referendum is an historic opportunity for us all to make a positive impact on the everyday lives of vulnerable children”.

Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance, said: “We need to send a clear message on Saturday 10th November, that Ireland values childhood”.

Ashley Balbirnie, Chief Executive of the ISPCC, added: “Turning a blind eye to the suffering of vulnerable children is no longer acceptable. It is everyone’s responsibility to ensure we create a society where children are protected and valued, and have the right to a safe and happy childhood."

The Rev David Godfrey, a retired Church of Ireland priest, added on Facebook: Some of my friends are advocating a "No" vote tomorrow. I am very clear about the opposite. "Yes" votes are needed to move the position of children forward and to broaden the adoption possibilities in this country. Government failures are not a good reason to vote against this referendum. If all our individual errors and arrogant attitudes were to be taken as a reason for not rescuing any of us from disastrous circumstances it would be a truly sad day. It would take us back centuries to when charitable people were generous only to the deserving poor. Vote Yes."

The bill paving the way for the holding of the referendum, the Thirty-First Amendment of the Constitution (Children) Bill 2012, was passed by the houses of the Oireachtas on 10 October this year.

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Proposed Article 42A in full:

1 The State recognises and affirms the natural and imprescriptible rights of all children and shall, as far as practicable, by its laws protect and vindicate those rights.
2 1° In exceptional cases, where the parents, regardless of their marital status, fail in their duty towards their children to such an extent that the safety or welfare of any of their children is likely to be prejudicially affected, the State as guardian of the common good shall, by proportionate means as provided by law, endeavour to supply the place of the parents, but always with due regard for the natural and imprescriptible rights of the child.
2° Provision shall be made by law for the adoption of any child where the parents have failed for such a period of time as may be prescribed by law in their duty towards the child and where the best interests of the child so require.
3 Provision shall be made by law for the voluntary placement for adoption and the adoption of any child.
4 1° Provision shall be made by law that in the resolution of all proceedings—
i brought by the State, as guardian of the common good, for the purpose of preventing the safety and welfare of any child from being prejudicially affected, or
ii concerning the adoption, guardianship or custody of, or access to, any child, the best interests of the child shall be the paramount consideration.
2° Provision shall be made by law for securing, as far as practicable, that in all proceedings referred to in subsection 1° of this section in respect of any child who is capable of forming his or her own views, the views of the child shall be ascertained and given due weight having regard to the age and maturity of the child.

* Barnardos infographic setting out and explaining the new article: http://www.barnardos.ie/what-we-do/campaign-and-lobby/full-size-graphic-...

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