Vote yes to protect the vulnerable, say activists
on 31/10/2012 00:00:00
Senator Jillian van Turnhout, a leading children's rights activist, warned against any complacency setting in for the yes side ahead of the amendment vote.
"The question I have been asked most frequently about the referendum is whether I think strengthening children's rights in the Constitution is really necessary? My answer is an unequivocal yes," said Ms van Turnhout.
"This is not a time for complacency.
"I believe, by strengthening children's rights in the Constitution, we will protect and support children in Ireland."
Inclusion Ireland, a campaign group, said successive governments had disregarded those with autism or disabilities.
Chief executive Paddy Connolly said: "A yes vote on will tell parents of children with disabilities that the people of Ireland support the rights of their children to the supports and services they need."
Shane Downer, the chief executive of Arc Adoption, an intercountry adoption agency, said the referendum "will allow us, as a society, to choose to protect and cherish our most vulnerable children".
Childminding Ireland urged everybody over 18 to "remember our own childhoods, whether happy, wholesome, and healthy, or difficult, even dangerous, to vote yes in this referendum".
Recent polls have found that almost three quarters of voters are expected to support the Government- backed move to enshrine children's rights in the Constitution.
But a recent survey also found over six in 10 voters have said they are "not very" or "not at all" knowledgeable about the proposed amendments.
Five groups and non-government organisations endorsed the vote yesterday.
The launch comes ahead of a one-hour debate tonight with TV3 presenter Vincent Browne on the amendment.
The yes side will be represented by Frances Fitzgerald, the children's minister, and Barnardos chief executive Fergus Finlay, while those arguing against the amendment will be journalist John Waters and former Independent Munster MEP Kathy Sinnott.
Ms Fitzgerald told the Irish Examiner this week that her priority over the coming days would be to make sure there is a high turnout on Nov 10.