Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Children Charlie McConalogue TD has repeated his calls for a commitment from the Minister for Children on a time frame for the Referendum on Children’s Rights. The Donegal North East TD has urged Minister Frances Fitzgerald to use her attendance at the Early Childcare Conference in Donegal today to commit to a date for the vote.
Deputy McConalogue said, “There is great concern that the important legislation enshrining children’s rights in our constitution could be slipping down the new government’s political agenda. During an interview with TV 3’s Midweek programme last week, Minister Frances Fitzgerald refused to commit to any time-frame for the Children’s Referendum and she poured cold water on proposals to hold the vote on the same day as the Presidential election.
“I am deeply concerned about the new government’s silence on this issue since they took up office. Over the past number of years in opposition, Fine Gael and Labour constantly demanded an immediate date for the Children’s Referendum. Both parties were completely preoccupied with rushing the legislation before the people and had no patience for the time that was needed to ensure that the wording was safe and correct.
“But now that they are in Government, Fine Gael and Labour appear to be dodging the issue despite Minister Fitzgerald having two agreed versions of the wording on her desk. There is a widespread view that holding the referendum on the same day as the Presidential election is a sensible idea. Despite Fine Gael agreeing with this during the general election campaign, they are now preparing the ground for yet another u-turn.
“I am delighted that Frances Fitzgerald is coming to Ballybofey today to see first-hand the excellent work carried out by our early childcare and education sector in Donegal. The Minister’s attendance at the Donegal County Childcare Committee conference will provide a perfect forum for her to set out a time frame for the Referendum once and for all.
“The Children’s Referendum is far too important to put on the long finger. Minister Fitzgerald must prove that her party’s focus on this issue wasn’t a simple ploy to win votes, by showing that she has a concrete plan for the Referendum. She can count on my full support for moves to progress this issue and put it before the people.”