No campaigners accused of peddling misinformation on family rights
PARENTS' VIEWS:ORGANISATIONS THAT claim parents will be disempowered by the proposed changes to the status of children in the Constitution are engaging in a campaign of misinformation, according to a group of parents’ organisations.
Six parents’ organisations called for a Yes vote in the Children’s referendum at a press conference in Dublin yesterday.
“Affording children rights is not about diminishing the rights of parents or the family, or indeed increasing the rights of the State. It is about society in Ireland making a statement of value about its children,” said Áine Lynch of the National Parents Council (primary level).
She urged people to vote on November 10th to “give the strongest message possible that Ireland values its children”.
Olive Good, of the Mothers Union, warned Yes supporters against complacency, saying there was an assumption that the result was a foregone conclusion.
“We do need people to go out to vote,” she said, because otherwise the Government might feel it didn’t have a mandate to pursue children’s rights in the future.
Ms Good said the proposed amendment would allow the State to intervene at an earlier stage to ensure families in adverse situations got support. It would allow the State to take a “proactive rather than reactive” approach to children’s rights.
She accused elements of the No campaign of “putting misinformation out there”. The amendment would give children rights in their own standing, she said, but “parents will still have to advocate for children . . . none of that will change”.
Later, an anti-amendment campaign group, Two Rights Now, issued a statement expressing surprise at the decision of parents’ groups to take a stance on an issue that “might seem to be beyond their remit”.
“It would be more fitting for these parents’ associations to take a stand in support of the two existing children’s constitutional rights, namely, the right to free primary education – which, patently does not exist in practice – and the right of any child to attend any school which is in receipt of public money without being obliged to attend religious instruction in a classroom,” the statement read.
“We find it most strange and worrying that the abuse of these rights has not been addressed by such organisations at this time when children’s rights are the topic of the day.”