Independents call for Yes vote but urge enhanced child security


REFERENDUM:A GROUP of six Independent TDs has called for a Yes vote in the children’s referendum but with the proviso that the amendment be followed through with further action to enhance child protection.

A joint news conference in Dublin was chaired by the technical group’s whip, Catherine Murphy. Also present were deputies Stephen Donnelly, John Halligan, Finian McGrath, Maureen O’Sullivan and Shane Ross.

Ms Murphy said the referendum was a starting point but it had to be a living thing and expanded upon.

“We are all more than aware of the shortcomings of the systems of protection for children in this country,” she said.

Echoing those sentiments, Ms O’Sullivan said it could only be seen as a first step and could not simply be a paper issue because resources have to be there to back it up and put it into practice.

For example, there were “about 50,000” adopted children in Ireland who had no access to their records or knowledge of their parents. “The Minister, I hope, will look at that very seriously when it comes to the adoption legislation.”

Mr Halligan said that although the group supported the proposal, unless services were put in place for children the amendment would mean very little.

Ireland was a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, under which all children had the right to live free from poverty and deprivation: “That is not the case in Ireland at present.”

Mr McGrath said he was a “Yes, but” voter and added that the amendment on protecting the rights of children would be a hollow call if “you don’t follow up in relation to providing services for those children at risk”.

He specifically cited children who are in very poor families and also chaotic and dysfunctional families. “They have to have services and support.”