Vote YES Blog – Minister Frances Fitzgerald

On Saturday 10th November, the people of Ireland will be asked to vote in the Children's Referendum, a Referendum is very much about Protecting Children.

We have had 17 major reports on child protection failings in Ireland in recent years.

A catalogue of shame.

But we must not allow these horrors to be relegated to the distant past.

In 2011 there were over 36,000 child abuse or welfare concerns referrals to the services. For the first time, over half of these were abuse concerns.

Child protection concerns haven't suddenly gone away. The sad reality is that they never probably will.

But that doesn't mean we shouldn't do all we possibly can to protect children.

That's why you should vote YES in this Referendum.

This Referendum is guided by some of the 17 major reports on child projection failings, in particular the Kilkenny Incest Case which first called for this constitutional change.

The new Sub-article 42A.2.1 will replace the current Article 42.5.

While requiring the State can only intervene "in exceptional cases"; and further clarifying that any partial failure must involve a likelihood of harm or risk to the child's safety or welfare, this change WILL nonetheless strengthen child protection:

by placing the protection of children at the centre of decision-making;
by focussing on the effect of parental failure on the child rather than the reasons for the failure; this will have a positive impact on the risk assessment and care planning for children who need protection; and
by clarifying that state can intervene to protect children, irrespective of the parents' marital status.
In addition this Referendum will strengthen child protection by ensuring that children will never again be invisible in court proceedings on issues as basic as their very protection.

In the Roscommon Abuse Case, we saw how a court challenge was taken to block the state's child protection services from intervening. That challenge was won... and the suffering continued.

Finally this Referendum is about protecting children through supporting families.

As I have often said, protecting children and supporting families are simply two sides of the same coin.

This Referendum seeks to support this goal

By requiring 'proportionate responses' to child protection concerns, it re-affirms and underpins the state's ongoing development of early intervention and family support services, to protect children in their home.

On Saturday 10th November you can help to strengthen child protection in Ireland by voting YES in the Children's Referendum.

Minister Fitzgerald - VIDEO - Vote YES
VIDEO - Vote YES - Senator Jillian van Turnhout
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