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Young Fine Gael Hold Ard Fheis Seminar on Human Rights - News - Young Fine Gael

Young Fine Gael Hold Ard Fheis Seminar on Human Rights

Young Fine Gael hosted a discussion entitled "Human Rights – Individuals' Rights" as part of the Fine Gael Ard Fheis held in the Convention Centre, Dublin on March 31st. Hundreds of delegates from across the country heard from a expert panel of four speakers on how Ireland needs to improve its record on human rights in some critical areas over the coming years.

Tanya Ward of the Children Rights Alliance opened the session by outlining reasons why passing the upcoming referendum on children's rights was so important. Ireland, she said, had a shameful record on upholding the rights of our youth and this year's vote will finally enshrine the rights and opportunities of every child into our constitution.

Carl O'Brien of the Irish Times spoke about the role which the media needs to play in highlighting human rights issues. He gave examples of cases of child neglect which in his view were not adequately reported in the media. He concluded by stating that even in these times of economic diffculty, its important that issues of human rights are debated in the mainstream of Irish public life and highlihgted that both the media and the political system needed to do more to improve our human rights record.

Deputy Simon Harris outlined how he has campaigned for years, both in and out of Dáil Eireann, for greater rights for disabled people in Ireland. He told delegates that "disabled people want reform not just social welfare cheques". He spoke of the trap that many disabled people felt hindered by, where they feel they do not have the same opportunity as others in Irish society based on their disability.

Colm O'Gorman of Amnesty International spoke about the wide range of commitments in the program for government and told delegates that he hoped the next number of years will mark a turning point for human rights in Ireland. He welcomed the Taoiseach's response following the Cloyne Report and discussed the improvements that need to be made so that basic rights such as health care can be offered to all.

A question and answer session then took place where members posed a number of questions around government cutbacks, gay rights and child detention centres. Each of these questions were then debated amongst the panel.

Minister for Children & Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald, also attended the event and gave her response to the various issues raised by the speakers at the end of the discussion. The Minister spoke about the importance that everyone works together to achieve a Yes Vote in the Children's Referendum. She noted that many of the issues the speakers and members raised had been discussed by her in her speech the previous night, when she had outlined the need for change and her Department's actions to bring about change. The Minister finishing by stating that while there are many problems that need to be tackled, this government is committed to bringing about lasting change in this area for future generations. The members were very appreciative of the Minister attending the event and giving her time so generously.

Speaking about the event, YFG President Patrick Molloy said: "The motivation behind this seminar came from feedback about ongoing areas of policy from our members. It was clear from the level of interaction in the room, and the hugely positive response to the event, that our members are committed to playing their part in helping pursue the many plans in the Programme for Government around this area." He concluded by thanking each of the speakers for their wide ranging contributions.

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