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One in Four calls for constitutional amendment to ensure proper and adequate child protection.

The Democratic programme for the first Dáil Eireann, 1919, stated:

“It shall be the first duty of the Republic to make provisions for the physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing of the children…”. The Democratic programme for the first Dáil Eireann, 1919

Our Constitution and successive governments have failed to live up to that vision. There have been seven national inquiries into allegations of child abuse in the past number of years. Often these inquiries have suggested that the lack of explicit rights of children under our constitution is a contributing factor in the States failure to adequately protect all of its children.

In light of all of the inquiries it is difficult to understand how the State continues to balk at the obvious need to recognise the rights and vulnerability of children under our most basic instrument of law.  The changes proposed recently by the All Party Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution are inadequate; they simply do not go far enough. Given what we now know about the depth of our past failures to vindicate the rights of our children, it is shameful that we have yet to act to fully recognise and protect those rights.

The recognition of children’s rights under the constitution would ensure that child protection policy and legislation would vindicate those rights. The Ferns Report exposed fundamental flaws in the State’s current child protection policy and legislation. Shockingly it found that if the HSE investigates and validates extra familial abuse it has no explicit powers to intervene and prevent further abuse. There is no child protection in the context of extra familial abuse.

Appearing before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health & Children, One in Four called for a radical overhaul of current child protection policy and practice. Speaking today, Colm O’ Gorman, Director said:

“There can be no doubt that current child protection practice and legislation is inadequate. The appalling abuses reported upon by the Ferns Inquiry happened because the state abdicated its responsibility for the welfare and protection of children.  The government must act to substantially reform and strengthen current legislation, policy and its implementation”.

Download the Presentation made to the Joint Committee


Contact information

Support and resources for people who have experienced sexual abuse and/or sexual violence.