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Ireland’s record on children’s rights under spotlight

By Ann Marie Foley - 14 January, 2016

Ministerfor Children, Dr James Reilly, to give a presentation to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in Geneva today.

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Two groups which campaign on behalf of unborn children diagnosed with life-limiting conditions have called on Minister James Reilly to speak up on behalf of these children.

The calls came in advance of the Minister’s presentation to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in Geneva today (14 January).

“We are very anxious that the Minister represents the rights of our children when he speaks to the UN Committee on Human Rights,” said Audrey Connolly, spokesperson for the parents’ support group One Day More.

“The fact that they were diagnosed with life-limiting conditions while in the womb doesn’t make them any less deserving of the same legal protections enjoyed by healthy children.”

She underlined that “Their illness increases the level of their vulnerability, and should in turn increase the care they receive.”

“Our children are precious to us. We don’t measure their worth by how long they lived. We would appeal to the Minister to make this clear to the UN Committee so that our children, and others like them, are not excluded from the protections of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.”

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The Pro Life Campaign also spoke out and said that the Minister for Children must ensure that his comments before the UN Human Rights Committee represent both born and unborn children, and that he defend 8th Amendment.

Spokesperson Sinead Slattery said that the Convention on the Rights of the Child provides “explicit protection” for the rights of the unborn child in international human rights law.

“The 8th Amendment fulfils this requirement by guaranteeing the equality of the unborn child in Irish law, and protecting their most basic right of all, the right to life,” she said.

“Any criticism that the UN Committee makes of this aspect of Irish law should be roundly rejected by Minister Reilly.”

She added that that the 8th Amendment, the Life Equality Amendment, is responsible for saving tens of thousands of lives since its introduction.

Barnardos is among more than a dozen of Ireland’s children’s charities and NGOs attending the hearings at the UN as part of the civil society delegation.

The charity stated that issues of concern include direct provision, Traveller and Roma children and child poverty rates.

June Tinsley, Head of Advocacy, Barnardos, said: “Today’s hearing provides an opportunity for the UN Committee on Children’s Rights to ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr James Reilly, and other government officials tough questions on what they have done to improve Ireland’s children’s rights record in the last 10 years and what plans they have to tackle the current key issues.”

Barnardos is calling on the Government to provide detailed, time-framed action plan to reduce child poverty, and to focus on investment in quality public services and taxation policies that explicitly address poverty and inequality.

*Ireland ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1992. It was last examined by the treaty committee in 2006.

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