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Press Statement Wednesday 19 September 2012 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Senator van Turnhout welcomes publication of wording for

Children’s Referendum
Today, Senator Jillian van Turnhout welcomes the publication of the wording for a children’s referendum. “Successive Governments have made promises to strengthen children’s rights in the Constitution and with this in mind I heartily congratulate this Government, and in particular the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Frances Fitzgerald TD, for publishing the wording and for setting the date for the Referendum. While I have long awaited this day, I know that even a successful referendum will not be a panacea to solve all ills and there are many issues facing children and families today that I will continue to be strongly advocate on in the Seanad. However, I am convinced that a constitutional amendment on children’s rights is absolutely necessary. It is needed to overcome legal roadblocks that are preventing us from fully protecting children and supporting families; that is hampering us from making decisions that are child-centred; and is preventing us from reforming our adoption laws. Acknowledgement of the need for this change is not new. It was first raised in the Oireachtas by former Senator, and later President, Mary Robinson over thirty years ago during the 1976 debate on the powers of the Adoption Board. In recent years the Oireachtas has spent significant time discussing horrific reports about the institutional abuse of children. When the Child Death Review Group Report (Shannon, Gibbons) was published in June, I expressed my profound sadness and a sense of the responsibility and shame I bear as a member of a society that has systematically failed to protect our most vulnerable children. The publication of the wording brings us closer to securing constitutional change that will make a real and positive difference to all children in Ireland. It is equally fitting that the Referendum will take place on Saturday 10 November, the birthday of Pádraig Pearse who when reading out the Proclamation in 1916 urged us to cherish "all the children of the nation equally”. I believe this Referendum is the most important for children in the history of the State. It will be a unique opportunity to make children visible in our Constitution and to foster a new attitude towards children in Ireland and I would encourage all voters to Check the Register at www.checktheregister.ie to ensure that they can use their vote on Saturday 10 November 2012.” I will now take a few days to consult with legal counsel and consider the full implications of wording before I make my position known”. ENDS Notes to Editor: Jillian van Turnhout is an Independent Senator and leading children’s rights activist. If you have any further questions you can contact Amy McArdle, her assistant, at 01-6183375.