5 Key Organisations join Senator van Turnhout to Endorse Yes Vote

Press Release: For Immediate Release

30th October 2012


Arc Adoption, Childminding Ireland, Inclusion Ireland, Irish Youth Foundation and Treoir joint with Senator van Turnhout to call for a YES vote in the Children’s Referendum on 10 November 2012

Senator Jillian van Turnhout today, Tuesday 30 October 2012, hosted a joint press conference to announce the support and share the views of some key NGOs who through their work will be affected by the provisions of the Children’s Referendum.

Senator Jillian van Turnhout says: “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. 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.”

The NGO’s participating in the press conference; Arc Adoption; Childminding Ireland; Inclusion Ireland; Irish Youth Foundation and Treoir were equally unequivocal in their support for a YES vote:

Shane Downer, Arc Adoption says: “This referendum will allow us, as a society, to choose to protect and cherish our most vulnerable children. It is time to vote yes. It’s time to make a clear, strong statement that all our children matter, and that Ireland can be a great place to be a child. Arc Adoption urges everyone to vote yes on November 10th.”

Paddy Connolly, Inclusion Ireland says: “The rights of children with an intellectual disability and autism have been disregarded by successive Governments. Inclusion Ireland, in calling on its members to vote Yes, believes that the Children’s Referendum marks a progression towards the recognition of the rights of all children, including children with a disability. A Yes vote on the 10th November 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.”

Niall McLoughlin, Irish Youth Foundation says: “The Irish Youth Foundation (IYF) supports children who, due to a wide range of social factors are denied their most basic rights – the right to be supported by caring adults, the right to a way of life that is free of fear and discrimination and the right to an education which meets all of their needs. The IYF strongly supports a strengthening of the rights of children in Ireland and encourages a Yes vote in the Children’s Referendum.”

Margot Doherty, Treoir says: “The Children’s Referendum, if passed, will mean that for the first time there will be a clear statement of children’s rights in the Irish Constitution. Treoir believes that inherent in these rights are a child’s right to identity and to a relationship with both parents.”

Patricia Murray, Childminding Ireland says: “Childminding Ireland urges every man and woman over 18 to remember our own childhoods, whether happy, wholesome, and healthy, or difficult, even dangerous, to vote YES in this referendum so that everyone of us will play our part to secure for each child the right to fair play, i.e. equal treatment with other children, as a young citizen of Ireland and the right for each child to have his or her own voice heard.”


For Media Enquires please contact:

Senator Jillian van Turnhout, on 087 2333784
Shane Downer, Arc Adoption, on 087 207 0634
Patricia Murray, Childminding Ireland, on 01 2878466
Siobhán Kane, Inclusion Ireland, on 01 8559891
Niall McLoughlin, Irish Youth Foundation, on 01 676 6535
Brenda Forde, Treoir, on 01 6700120

Note to Editors:

– Senator Jillian van Turnhout is a leading children’s rights activist and Leader of the Independent Group of Senators (Taoiseach’s Nominees)

– Arc Adoption is an intercountry adoption mediation agency enabling ethical adoption of eligible and available children in need of loving and secure home, into suitable adoptive families.

– Childminding Ireland is a membership organisation founded in 1983 to promote the development of quality in family based care for children

– Inclusion Ireland is a national organisation advocating for the rights of people with an intellectual disability and their families.

– Irish Youth Foundation is a non-governmental organisation seeking to provide opportunities for children and young people facing adverse and extreme conditions to experience success in their lives.

– Treoir is a membership organisation which promotes the legal and social rights of unmarried parents and their children in Ireland. Treoir provides a National Information Service to unmarried families and those involved with them.

Government responds favourably to Senator van Turnhout’s proposal to grant property tax exemption to youth organisations

Press Release, 6 March 13

Government responds favourably to Senator van Turnhout’s proposal to grant property tax exemption to youth organisations


In a Seanad debate in December 2012 attended by Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan TD, Independent Senator Jillian van Turnhout made the case that charities that hold properties used for hosting and accommodating activities for children and young people should be exempted from the Government’s proposed property tax.


Senator van Turnhout, who is the Leader of the Independent Group in the Seanad and a campaigner on children’s issues, argued that the imposition of a property tax on properties owned by the Girl Guides and similar youth organisations would place many of these organisations in a precarious financial position.


Minister Nooan expressed his appreciation of the fact that groups like the Girl Guides and Scouts provide facilities and work with young people and with other sectors for social and personal development purposes. He said in the debate that just as he had granted such organisations an exemption from the household charge for the buildings in question, he would ensure that the exemption would also apply to the property tax.

Today in the Seanad, Minister Brian Hayes, TD, announced that on foot of Minister Noonan’s commitment in December to respond favourably to Senator van Turnhout’s proposal to grant an exemption, the properties used for accommodation purposes by groups such as the Girl Guides or Scouts will indeed be exempted from the property tax.

Section 7 of the Finance (Local Property Tax) (Amendment) Bill 2013 now states that “Properties used by a charity for recreational activities” shall not, for the purposes of this Act, be regarded as a relevant residential property.


Senator van Turnhout:


“Naturally, I am delighted that the Government has recognised the merits of my proposed amendment. The Irish Girl Guides Trust, of which I am a director, holds a number of properties around the country that are used for children’s and youth activities. These are held on a non-residential and non-commercial basis, with the guides spending weekends away in these properties. The guides pay a very low fee for their stay, because no profits are made on the properties, most of which are in need of serious investment and repair. At a time when families are being squeezed, today’s decision by Minister Noonan to exempt these properties from the property tax is very welcome.”


For further information, contact Amy McArdle at 01 6183375, or email jillian.vanturnhout@oireachtas.ie.


Senator van Turnhout calls on Ireland to immediately transpose the EU Anti-Trafficking Directive into national legislation

Press Statement, 15 April 2013





I warmly welcome today’s publication of the European Commission’s Eurostat Report Trafficking in human beings.  I note with extreme concern that 62% of all those identified or presumed to be victims of human trafficking in the EU over the 2008-2010 period, were trafficked for sexual exploitation, with countries of trafficking origin identified both inside and outside the EU.


According to Department of Justice annual reports of trafficking in human beings in Ireland for 2009, 2010, and 2011, there were 132 detected cases of trafficking for sexual exploitation, of which 32 were children.  Despite this, there has been a negligible number of prosecutions under the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act, 2008 and the Child Trafficking and Pornography Act, 1998.  Furthermore, Ireland has failed to transpose the EU Anti-Trafficking Directive, the deadline for which expired on 6 April.


Following a very constructive meeting last week with Myria Vassiliadou, EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator, where we shared our mutual concerns, I call on the Government to immediately transpose the EU Anti-Trafficking Directive into national legislation.  The EU Directive will have a significant impact on the lives of trafficking victims and will prevent others from falling victim to this heinous crime.


I will continue my work in the Seanad: advocating to criminalise the purchase of sex in Ireland to curb prostitution and trafficking; seeking to introduce and strengthen regulations around vulnerable work placements, such as Au-Pairing; and focusing on the distinct vulnerability of asylum seekers in Direct Provision to trafficking and exploitation in Ireland.



Notes for the Editor:

European Commission Report: Trafficking in human beings, Directive 2011/36/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 April 2011 on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims, and replacing Council Framework Decision 2002/629/JHA, and all related European Commission press releases can be view at http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/malmstrom/news/archives/2013/04/20130415_en.htm


For More Information, Please Contact:                                                                

Senator Jillian van Turnhout,                                                                                                                                    Leader of the Independent Group (Taoiseach’s Nominees)                                                              Phone: 01-6183375                                                                                                                                      e-mail:jillian.vanturnhout@oireachtas.ie


Senator van Turnhout tables motion condemning Child Beauty Pageants in Ireland

Today, Wednesday 5 March 2014, Senator Jillian van Turnhout and the Independent Group of Senators (Taoiseach’s Nominees) table a Motion condemning child beauty pageants in Ireland.

Referring to the strength of her conviction in opposing child beauty pageants taking place in Ireland Senator van Turnhout said “I believe that childhood is a time-specific and unique period in a person’s development and that the participation, for financial gain by others, in a competition by minors, judged on attractiveness and physical attributes rather than any sort of discernible skill, is hugely problematic and contrary to protecting childhood.”

The Motion, which has received unanimous support from all Senators across all political groupings in the Seanad, recognises the difficulties and pressures faced by children and parents with increasingly sexualised media imagery and popular culture. It acknowledges efforts already being made to protect childhoods in Ireland against sexualisation and undue gender stereotyping and asks all stakeholders to do more. 

Senator van Turnhout explains “this Motion is a call to action not only to our colleagues in Dáil Éireann, but also to Civil Society Organisations dealing with children, young people and parents, parents themselves and society at large. We need to send a clear and unified message that there is no place in Ireland for child beauty pageants.” 


Notes for the Editor:· Full text of Motion attached.
· The Independent Group (Taoiseach’s Nominees) are Senators Jillian van Turnhout (Leader), Fiach Mac Conghail, Mary Ann O’Brien, Marie Louise O’Donnell, and Katherine Zappone. 
· The Motion is seconded by Senator Marie Louise O’Donnell. 
· The debate takes place on Wednesday 5 March 2014 at 17:30-19:30 in the Seanad. It will be broadcast live on UPC Channel 207 and is available online at http://www.oireachtas.ie/parliament/watchlisten/ or through the new free Oireachtas App for smartphones.
For More Information, Please Contact:                                                                 
Senator Jillian van Turnhout
Leader of the Independent Group (Taoiseach’s Nominees)
Phone: 01-6183375
e-mail: jillian.vanturnhout@oireachtas.ie

Private Members Motion
Condemning the Holding of Child Beauty Pageants in Ireland
5 March 2014

“That Seanad Éireann:
· Recognises that childhood, as a time-specific and unique period in a person’s development, is a distinct space from adulthood.

· Appreciates the difficulties and pressures faced by children and parents as the distinct space between childhood and adulthood becomes increasingly blurred through media, advertising and popular culture.

· Believes that every effort must be made to protect children and childhood against sexualisation and undue gender stereotyping.

· Echoes the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald TD’s endorsement of Responsible Retailing: Retail Ireland Childrenswear Guidelines (June 2012) and her statement that “[t]he preparation of these guidelines is yet another example of how working together we can, as a State and society, help to foster a culture where childhood is preserved and children are protected”.

· Commends An Coimisiun Le Rinci Gaelacha, The Irish Dancing Commission, for introducing additional rules prohibiting the use of make-up including false eyelashes, tinted moisturiser, or any artificial tanning products for the face for all dancers aged 10 years and under. (Effective 1 March 2014.)

· Believes that the participation, for financial gain, in a competition by minors, judged on attractiveness and physical attributes rather than discernible skill is contrary to the protection of children and preservation of childhood and therefore condemns child beauty pageants in Ireland.

· Further holds that child beauty pageants run contrary to the values set out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

· Cognisant of the current economic climate, greatly appreciates the significant decision by each of the hotels approached by Universal Royalty back in September 2013 to decline hosting a child beauty pageant on their premises and welcomes the support of the Irish Hotels Federation in opposing child beauty pageants in Ireland.

· Calls on all stakeholders to be resolute in opposing child beauty pageants in Ireland.

· Calls on all Senators to formally endorse the appeal made by Senator Jillian van Turnhout in Seanad Éireann on 19 September 2013 to send a clear message that child beauty pageants have no place in Ireland. 

· Seeks political consensus in its opposition to child beauty pageants across both Houses of the Oireachtas and invites Dáil Éireann to pass a similar Motion.”

Making the Case For a Right to a Home: Joyce Loughnan

 story-kevinIt is over 75 years since the Irish people approved a new Constitution in 1937 with Bunreacht na hÉireann replacing the 1922 Constitution of the Irish Free State. The Constitution is of course a vital, living document which seeks to reflect the values at the heart of Irish society.

As we all know, societies develop and change over the years and it is important for a Constitution to reflect this. Indeed, over the past 75 years our Constitution has been amended a number of times by the people, to reflect historical and societal change. The current Programme for Government included a commitment to establish a Constitutional Convention and this work is underway.

This year already, the members have voted in favour of lowering the voting age to 16 and to amend the clause in the Constitution which emphasises the central role of women in the home. Some of the other key issues for the Convention to examine in the first stage of its review this year include: reform of the Dáil electoral system; giving Irish citizens abroad the right to vote in presidential elections and the provision for same-sex marriage.



Focus Ireland has always believed in a rights based approach to tackling housing need. Our vision is that “Everyone has a right to a place that they can call home.” We work through our support services and housing programmes to help people to secure a home and to prevent many others from losing theirs in the first place.

Housing is a basic human right and Ireland should honour its international obligations that guarantee a right to housing and act to remove the inequalities in the Irish housing system. We believe that if a right to housing was enshrined in our Constitution, this would help to ensure a more effective response by the State in dealing with the issues of homelessness and housing need.

Unlike other EU countries, Ireland has no established right to housing or accommodation for its citizens. Indeed housing rights in Ireland are historically weak by way of comparison to our European neighbours. Homelessness on the other hand is perhaps the most extreme denial of housing rights in society. It is a phenomenon directly resulting from poverty and social exclusion.

Without a right to housing the extent, nature and experience of homelessness in society is deepened, exacerbated and prolonged. Focus Ireland believes that the absence of a right to housing in Irish society means that previous governments, officials and administrators have responded in a lesser way to the challenge of homelessness and housing need.

Focus Ireland has called for a legal right to housing for all citizens in need of a home and for this right to be enshrined in our Constitution many times over the years. This belief is supported by the public as a survey carried out for our charity found that a massive 80% of the public support a Constitutional right to housing for Irish Citizens.




Focus Ireland launched a fresh campaign last year calling for a Right to a Home which included writing to the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste on this matter. We believe it was a mistake by the government not to include the right to a home as one of the issues for the Convention to examine as part of its first phase of work.

The finding of our survey show the public wants action on this issue. However, we welcome the Taoiseach’s commitment to add further topics to the second stage of this process and strongly believe that the Right to a Home should be one of these issues.

There has been good work carried out across housing and homeless services for many years – yet Ireland is still failing to provide adequate housing for some of our most marginalised citizens. If we are to effectively tackle major problems in society it must be impossible to view housing as a stand-alone issue. Failure by the State to provide housing leads to people becoming homeless or remaining trapped in low standard, insecure accommodation. We have sadly seen this in recent years as the previous government failed to meet the agreed deadline to end long-term homelessness and the need to sleep rough by 2010.

However, there have been positive developments already this year as Minister Jan O’Sullivan has recently launched a new Homelessness Policy Statement which sets a new deadline of 2016 to end long-term homelessness. Focus Ireland fully supports this policy and will be working in partnership to implement it – but we also still firmly believe that a right to a home is required in our country.

We are still very much focused on working to secure the “Right to a Home” as one of these issues for the second phase of the Constitutional Review.

I hope readers of this piece will support this campaign as we look to continue it this year to keep this important issue on the agenda.

To find out more about the work of Focus Ireland and how you can support our work go to www.focusireland.ie