Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Children Robert Troy will co-chair a public information meeting tomorrow evening with Labour deputy Willie Penrose which will be attended by Dr. Geoffrey Shannon, Chairperson of the Adoption Authority of Ireland.
Location: The Greville Arms Hotel, Mullingar
Speaking ahead of the meeting Deputy Troy said: “In the final days of campaigning in the referendum Fianna Fáil is pressing the case for a yes vote on Saturday and for as many people as possible to turn out to vote. We are backing this important constitutional change as we see it as the next logical step in a journey of improving child protection that has made advances over the last decade. The wording people are being asked to support is well balanced and marks an important contribution to advancing children’s rights in Ireland.
“I thank Deputy Penrose for agreeing to participate in this public information meeting. It will give people an opportunity to hear from Dr. Shannon who has been a leading voice on child protection and welfare issues. This is the first referendum since the Good Friday Agreement where every political party is urging a yes vote. All of the Children’s NGO’s are also calling for a yes vote and have played a strong role, particularly in recent weeks, in getting the message out.
“Investment in the protection of children can and must continue. The previous government increased the numbers of Special Needs Assistants for vulnerable children from 200 to over 10,000 and even in the teeth of the recession an extra 200 social workers were hired and the free pre-school year was introduced.
“However while recognising previous investment and the importance of this referendum no-one should claim that this referendum is a panacea. Even with this change, the effort to protect children will need to be adequately resourced and I have repeatedly called on the Government to commit to this. In order to see the aspirations of this amendment become reality, resources together with a better coordinated approach to child protection must be there. We need to ensure that vulnerable families are given all the necessary supports and that social workers are available when needed regardless of geography.”
Deputy Troy concluded: “I am encouraging anyone with concerns or questions about this referendum to attend tomorrow’s meeting and hear from Geoffrey Shannon. He has been a leading voice on the issue of child welfare and I believe his contribution will be enormously helpful to people who have yet to decide on their vote or have reservations about supporting the Constitutional amendment.”