Above Irish girl takes a stroll in a meadow
Families must be supported by the State in the upcoming children's rights referendum, the Ombudsman for Children Emily Logan insisted today.
Ms Logan called for Government to consider the principles of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child and set out a clear, unambiguous position in the Constitution.
She said that to genuinely respect the rights of children in Ireland, they need to be recognised as individuals. "There is a lack of clarity about the status of children's rights in our Constitution," said Ms Logan.
"Last November, the Taoiseach expressed a view that children's rights should have a central place in our Constitution. "Changes need to be made."
The Ombudsman met with Minister for Children, Brian Lenihan, in early December 2006, to discuss the proposed constitutional change during which, in accordance with law, submitted written advice on the issue.
She acknowledges that while there may not be consensus on the issue, the changes she has recommended could substantially enhance the protection of children in the State.
"There is evidence in Ireland that children view the family as the most important contributor to their well-being," said Ms Logan. "The experience of my office through our direct contact with children and young people and our complaints function supports this view. "Parents and children who complain directly to the office seek help for their family.
This has consistently been expressed as supplementing not supplanting their family responsibilities."
The Ombudsman for Children's Office is the independent, statutory organisation with responsibility for promoting children's rights in Ireland.
Ms Logan believes the Government must be guided by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child as regards the approach to such a change and the wording to be proposed.
She said the UN Convention is consistent with the Irish Constitution in terms of its presumption that the family environment is the optimal environment for a child's growth and well-being.
But she added the State needs to recognise the many changes and challenges facing families today which requires parents to be given better state support, considering that such support is essential for children, parents and society as a whole.
"Irish people demonstrated their concern for children's well-being last summer following the Supreme Court judgement on statutory rape," she said. "Hopefully, this year they will have an opportunity to effect legislative change to strengthen children's rights".
Source: The Irish Times