Don't wait for new scandal, protect child rights now -- O'Rourke
Published 22/07/2010 | 05:00
FIANNA Fail TD Mary O'Rourke has renewed her call for a constitutional amendment that would enshrine the rights of children to be brought before the electorate immediately.
The former minister, who is chairwoman of the Joint Committee on the Constitutional Amendment on Children, warned that if this did not happen, the cross-party consensus would be diminished.
"We cannot wait until there is another huge scandal and everyone wrings their hands and says we must have a referendum on children's rights," she told the MacGill Summer School yesterday.
She noted that as far back as 1993, Judge Catherine McGuinness, in her capacity as chairwoman of the Kilkenny Incest Inquiry, said that a constitutional amendment would change the atmosphere in which childcare cases would be approached as it would be putting the child's rights first rather than the parents' or family's.
But controversially, speaking in a constituency that has been without one of its three TDs for 16 months, Ms O'Rourke added that such an amendment was too important to be "mired down in all the carry-on of a by-election campaign".
She questioned why a 1979 referendum that was entitled to University Representation in the Seanad had never been implemented.
"The bill was signed by the President on August 3, 1979 and formulated as law. Then governments of all hues fell silent and nothing was done to put this amendment into practice.
"So the people of Ireland in this instance were let down by their Government then and by all governments since. Why? Why? Why?" she asked.