'Enough good' for SF to back Yes


SINN FÉIN wants “a new ethos for cherishing the children of this State”, Gerry Adams said yesterday at the launch of his party’s campaign for a Yes vote in the children’s referendum.

“The Government position doesn’t go as far as we want it go but we see it as a very important first step,” the Sinn Féin leader said, adding that the proposed amendment was “an important legislative advance”.

Asked if it had any real meaning against a background of possible budget cuts in child support, he said it gives children what they don’t have at the moment, namely legal rights as individuals. “We want the children also to have economic rights,” he added. “And we regret the fact that that isn’t contained in the amendment to the Constitution that is being put, but we still think there is enough good things in it for us to support it.”

The party’s spokesman on health and children, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, said placing children’s rights in the Constitution has been a Sinn Féin demand over many years. “While the formula of words now proposed falls far short of our policy objectives on children’s rights and indeed of the agreed wording presented by the Oireachtas Joint Committee, it is nevertheless an important and worthwhile proposal,” he said. “It affirms for the first time in the Constitution that children have rights. It establishes that the best interests of the child are paramount in all matters concerning the child.

“It states that the view of the child must be heard in all judicial cases concerning the child’s care, adoption, guardianship, custody and access.” However, he said the amendment, if adopted, “will not achieve its stated intent if Government fails to adequately resource the essential support services for children and for families”.

Meanwhile, the Children’s Rights Alliance held a briefing on the referendum for Irish speakers at Foras na Gaeilge Hall in Dublin yesterday.

Joe O’Toole of Campaign for Children said it was vital children be heard in proceedings that affect them, mentioning the Roscommon case as an example of previous failings in this area.