Minister to Address Forum on Children’s Rights at NUI Galway

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Frances Fitzgerald, TD and Minister for Children and Youth Affairs speaking at the Forum on Children's Rights at NUI Galway

A New Era in Child Protection

The UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway will today (Thursday, 10 May) host a forum on Children’s Rights.  The event will feature a keynote address: A New Era in Child Protection delivered by Frances Fitzgerald, TD and Minister for Children and Youth Affairs.

The holding of a referendum in relation to the rights of children under the constitution is one of the key commitments made by the Government in relation to children and young people and is expected to be held in 2012.      

Minister Frances Fitzgerald said: “The Government and I are committed to a comprehensive programme of reforms aimed at improving the lives of Ireland’s children and strengthening children’s rights. However no single change will be as momentous as that to our constitution. If we want to address the historic lack of focus on children; if we want to truly create a new era for child protection; if we want to really give effect to children’s rights, while recognizing the importance of the family, then we can do it by amending the constitution.”

Professor Pat Dolan, UNESCO Chair in Children, Youth and Civic Engagement, NUI Galway and Professor Alan Smith, UNESCO Chair in Education for Pluralism, Human Rights and Democracy, University of Ulster will deliver an independent Commentary outlining the need for greater recognition of the rights of the child in Ireland and the inter-play between the rights of the child and rights of parents. 

According to NUI Galway’s Professor Dolan: “Our perspective is simple, what is good for children, is good for their parents and ultimately to the benefit of civic society.  We believe that incorporating a commitment to children’s rights in the constitution would build a stronger culture of protecting children in Irish society and is in keeping with international obligations.”

The Forum will be moderated by Carl O’Brien, Chief Reporter at the Irish Times and will include a Question and Answer session from the audience.  

The Minister will also launch a new book by Professor Pat Dolan and Bernardine Brady of the Child and Family Research Centre A Guide to Youth Mentoring: Providing Effective Social Support.

The UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre is committed to strengthening the rights of children and young people.  Ireland is emerging from a period in which some children, whether in the care of the State or of their families were not provided with adequate protection and support.  Providing greater recognition of the rights of the child through stronger constitutional recognition has the potential to embed children’s rights principles and standards into all decision-making by public bodies and inform the practice of those working with children. 

An independent report completed by the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre in conjunction with the Galway City Partnership and St Vincent de Paul will also be officially launched by the Minister today. The NUI Galway report titled ‘Making a Difference, An Independent Evaluation of the Incredible Years Programme in Pre-Schools in Galway City’ evaluated the impact of the Incredible Years Programme on the children during their period in the pre-school and tracked the children as they entered primary school.  The report outlines particularly significant changes in the children behaviour and makes strong recommendations relating to pre-school education inIreland.




Author: Marketing and Communications Office, NUI Galway
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