Senator van Turnhout commends Government for moving away from the rhetoric of the past toward protecting children today.

Senator Jillian van Turnhout today warmly welcomed announcements by both Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald TD, and Minister for Justice and Equality, Alan Shatter TD, on the introduction of new child protection and welfare measures. The Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children and the Criminal Justice (Withholding Information on Crimes Against Children and Vulnerable Adults) Bill together represent a new, radical and long overdue approach to child protection in Ireland

In response to the announcement, Senator van Turnhout said, “I commend Minsters Fitzgerald and Shatter for taking this coordinated approach to initiate legislation on child protection. Placing the Children First Guidance on a statutory footing will ensure consistency in our child protection procedures nationwide. From now on children presenting with the same situation will receive the same child protection response irrespective of where they are in the country. In conjunction with the new criminal justice legislation, these measures will provide those working with children with a clearly defined statutory responsibility to report and act on suspicions where a child’s safety or welfare may be at risk.”

Senator van Turnhout is looking forward to actively engaging with both Ministers and their respective Departments to bring these crucial legislative measures to fruition. She said “it is all too rare to see Ministers take full advantage of Oireachtas structures. The commitment by Minister Fitzgerald to present the Heads of Bill on the Children First Guidance to the Joint Committee on Health and Children for consultation is most welcome. Equally, Minister Shatter has already facilitated consultations on the failure to report child abuse legislation and is now introducing this Bill into the Seanad, which I believe will ensure a more robust debate.  I relish the opportunity to roll up my sleeves and help ensure that this legislation is the best that it can be.”

“These measures coupled with the promised referendum, later this year, to strengthen children’s rights in the Irish Constitution represent a watershed as to how we value childhood in Ireland. For far too long we have examined these issues in an historical context, but by working collectively in this manner, Ministers Fitzgerald and Shatter demonstrate this Government’s clear commitment to move away from the rhetoric of the past towards using the full rigors of the law to realise children’s rights now and in the future.”

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