Guarded reaction to referendum wording

CHILDREN’S advocacy groups last night gave a guarded response to the proposed wording of the long-awaited constitutional amendment on children’s rights.

The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children said it would not be commenting until the wording had been reviewed fully, a sentiment echoed by the Children’s Rights Alliance. In a statement, the ISPCC said it would give time to analysing and considering the implications of this wording as it relates to the further promotion and protection of children’s rights.

Jillian van Turnhout, chief executive of the CRA, said: “The Alliance will not take an official stance on whether to support the proposed wording until such time as the wording is officially published and we have had an opportunity to carefully consider it.”

However, the chair of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Constitutional Amendment on Children, Mary O’Rourke, welcomed the proposed wording, describing it as a significant improvement on the 2007 Referendum Bill.

“I firmly believe the proposal enshrines and enhances the position of children in the Constitution and for the first time elevates the voice of the child to a constitutional level.”

The proposed Article 42 of the Constitution contains a provision that the welfare and best interests of a child be considered in adoption, custody and guardianship disputes. It includes a provision for children to be heard in certain proceedings.

In common with the current constitutional position, the article allows for the state to take the place of parents who fail in their duty towards a child but it goes further by allowing the adoption of a child in those circumstances.

More in this section