Ireland must take immediate steps to introduce an effective legal ban on all forms of corporal punishment against children, Barnardos said today.
The children’s charity’s comments come in light of the unanimous European Committee of Social Rights finding today that Irish domestic law is in breach of the European Social Charter.
In a ruling issued this morning, the Council of Europe said corporal punishment of children is not prohibited in a sufficiently clear, binding and precise manner under Irish legislation or case law.
Head of Advocacy at Barnardos June Tinsley said: "Ireland has rightly come under fire for not legislating for a full ban on all forms of corporal punishment of children, including smacking children at home.
"There is a distinction between a slap and more severe forms of punishment but whatever the level of hitting all are a breach of children’s rights – including their right to physical integrity. It results in the child feeling hurt, sad and upset.
"Corporal punishment is still legal in Ireland as parents can use the defence of ‘reasonable chastisement’. Our legal system doesn’t allow adults to be violent to each other so it makes no sense to allow a parent be violent to a child, especially as children are particularly vulnerable members of our society.
“Barnardos does not condone any form of violence to children and would urge the Government to take immediate and necessary steps to update our law in accordance with the Committee’s recommendations.”