Published date: 30 Mar 2009


Monday 30 March 2009: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Are We There Yet? Asks Children’s Rights Alliance

The Children’s Rights Alliance, a coalition of over 90 NGOs working to secure the rights and needs of children, is to host a high-level symposium at Dublin Castle on Thursday 2 April, to map out the ways in which Ireland can be one of the best places in the world to be a child.  Over 160 delegates, all of whom are high-ranking civil servants or key personnel in the NGO sector, will hear from the President of Ireland Mary McAleese and the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Barry Andrews TD, both of whom will speak on the current record of children’s rights in Ireland.  This comes ahead of the Irish State’s next progress report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, due out at the end of this month (April).

Jillian van Turnhout, Chief Executive of the Alliance, says: “The Alliance believes that the people of Ireland and our politicians want the best for children, yet the overwhelming evidence shows that we are failing and that far too many children have no childhood at all.  When we ask: ‘Are we there yet?  Are we one of the best places in the world to be a child?’ we have no choice but to answer with a resounding ‘no’.  There is no denying the considerable gap between the rhetoric and the reality of respecting and realising children’s rights in Ireland.  The symposium on Thursday aims to close this gap and ensure that, in our economic troubles, we invest in our future and invest in our children”.

Too many children have limited access to basic services, like education, primary health care or adequate supports for vulnerable children.  In the area of education, one in ten children leaves school with literacy problems (one child in three in disadvantaged communities); the most recent budget cuts are stalling early years education and supports required for children with disabilities.  In health, Ireland continues to have a two-tier system of healthcare that favours children in better-off families who can afford to purchase private care; the Irish Government has also failed to face up to industry and ban the advertising of junk food and alcohol to tackle the worrying rise in childhood obesity and alcohol misuse in society.

Many children have very difficult childhoods, over 76,000 children live in deep poverty, Traveller children continue to live in unserviced sites and experience crippling discrimination.  Children continue to be treated in adult psychiatric units, children are detained in adult prisons.  Separated children seeking asylum continue to live in unregistered and poorly supervised hostels, despite the evidence that they are at high risk from traffickers.

The symposium will offer solutions, and highlight good practice in Ireland; delegates will hear from international speakers, such as Maria Herczog, a member of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child to which the Irish State is accountable; Ted Lempert, President of Children Now in California, who has been successful in putting children’s rights firmly on the Californian political agenda, and keeping it there despite the State’s impending bankruptcy; and Phil Beadle, award winning teacher, journalist, broadcaster and author who is best known for his controversial Channel 4 work with seriously disadvantaged children.

For further information, please contact:
Carys Thomas, Communications Director
Tel: (01) 662 9400 / 087-7702845
Fax: (01) 662 9355
Email: [email protected]

Notes to Editor:

  • Press packs with synopses of speeches are available.
  • Photographer: Derek Speirs will be taking photographs throughout the day.
  • The Irish government ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) on 28 September 1992.  By ratifying the UNCRC, the Irish State committed itself to submit periodic reports describing progress towards implementing the UNCRC in Ireland.  The Irish State submitted the First National Report of Ireland in 1997.  The formal examination of the Second National Report of Ireland took place in Geneva on 20 September 2006, where it issued its most recent Concluding Observations and Recommendations for Ireland on 29 September 2006.