The upcoming Children’s Referendum will not be a panacea for protecting children but it is a sensible approach to putting children first, according to Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin.

Deputy Martin was speaking last night at the launch of Ógra Fianna Fáil’s campaign for a Yes vote in next month’s Children’s Referendum at UCC.

“While the forthcoming coming referendum is a step forward for children’s rights in Ireland it is not a panacea for protecting children. However, it does add to the Children’s Rights legislation introduced over the past 20 years.

“The Childcare Act will remain central, we have all seen numerous court cases of child abuse, both within the family home and by certain institutions and I firmly believe that protecting children is more important than shielding institutions.

“The referendum, if passed, will ensure that legislation will put children first through an article in the Irish constitution, which specifically outlines children’s rights. I am glad that the wording of the referendum is consistent with wording brought forward by previous Minister Barry Andrews, who is Fianna Fáil’s Director of Elections for the referendum.

“In Ireland today, there are 6,500 children in care and 2,000 of these have married parents. Under the current legislation, these 2,000 children cannot apply for adoption with their foster families. This is an important change in children’s rights but it must be backed up with adequate resources to protect children.

“The referendum will also ensure that no child is discriminated against whether they are disadvantaged, physically or intellectually disabled when it comes to accessing services of the state. It is important that everyone votes on November 10th and I would encourage people to Vote Yes.”