One of Ireland’s leading experts on child and family issues has welcomed the announcement of a date for the Children’s Rights Referendum, calling it a ‘historical and internationally significant step’.
Based at NUI Galway, Professor Pat Dolan holds the UNESCO Chair in Chair in Children, Youth and Civic Engagement. “There is growing recognition internationally of children as independent rights holders. The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child has recommended that the State take further measures to incorporate children’s rights into the Irish constitution. Opening up debate around this issue, and asking the public to ultimately make the decision on where we place our children within our constitution, is vital”, said the Professor.
A former social worker, he welcomed the commitment by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald TD to hold a referendum on the Rights of the Child in Ireland: “I hope that all parties approach the campaign in an open and honest way, making arguments based on evidence, and always with the best interests of children as the primary motivating concern.”
Professor Dolan said: “The rights and well-being of children, parents and society are inextricably linked and complementary. What is good for children is good for their parents and ultimately to the benefit of civic society. This could be a defining moment for children and young people in Ireland. And it needs to be – the best legacy that we can leave the next generation is a commitment that their rights are protected and enhanced, that they have some certainty in an increasingly uncertain world.”
As a member of the UNESCO International education network, Professor Dolan was co-author on a report on the proposed referendum earlier this year called, ‘Children’s Rights and the Family’. The document pointed out that “incorporating a stronger commitment to children’s rights in the constitution would build a stronger culture of children’s rights in Irish society and is in keeping with the state’s international obligations”.