The Government was tonight urged to immediately end the deportation of migrant parents of children born in Ireland.
The Coalition Against the Deportation of Irish Children called on justice minister Michael McDowell to respect the rights of the children under the UN Convention.
Yemisi Ojo, secretary of the Integration of African Children in Ireland (IACI) group, told a candlelit vigil at the Spire on O’Connell Street to mark the eve of Universal Children’s Day that the rights of these children must be upheld as equal citizens.
“One year ago to this day, I called on the Government to address the plight of Irish children of migrant parents. One year later, and nothing has changed,” he said.
“This vulnerable group are still in an unacceptable limbo their plight being totally ignored. The vast majority of these children and their parents are living in a constant state of fear.
“Several Irish children have been forced to leave Ireland, others remain here alone, their parents having been deported.
“Their right to retain contact with their parents, guaranteed under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, has been ignored.
“We are calling on the Irish Government to halt this policy of deportations now – to respect the rights of the children under the UN Convention – to treat all children equally irrespective of the race or nationality of their parents, and to act in the best interest of the children.”
Sarah Benson of the Children’s Rights Alliance, reminded the Government that when it signed up to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, it undertook to uphold obligations with respect to all children in Ireland.
“Unfortunately what we have been witnessing over the last 18 months in respect of Government policy towards Irish children whose parents are non-EU citizens, is a repeated failure to uphold their rights to equality or to act in their best interest,” she said.
“On the day marking Universal Children’s Day, we are reminding the Government of their obligations, and hope that we will see a change in Government policy that upholds children’s rights.”
CADIC, which is a coalition of non-governmental organisations formed in July 2003, has organised two events to mark Universal Children’s Day.
The candlelight vigil between 5pm – 7 pm at the Spire, will be followed by a celebration for children in “The Playground” in St Stephen’s Green between 11am and 1pm.
Both events will be attended by opposition party members and church representatives.