Thursday, 19 June 2014
Address to Seanad Éireann by Ms Catherine McGuinness
On behalf of Members of Seanad Éireann, I welcome Ms Catherine McGuinness who has been invited to address the Seanad on the topic of children's rights in Ireland. As chair of the external assessment panel for the Children's Rights Alliance report card, she is to the fore in advocating the changes necessary to secure the rights of children in Ireland by seeking full implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Her address is timely coinciding with the publication of the report of the Seanad Public Consultation Committee on Ireland's compliance with the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights. Some of the recommendations made in the committee's report echo comments made in the Children's Rights Alliance report card for 2014. I am sure the proceedings will offer an opportunity for dynamic engagement on these matters of common concern.
Although the address of Ms McGuinness will focus on her work on children's rights, Members scarcely need to be reminded of her long and illustrious career. During a multifaceted career in law she practised at the Bar and served as a judge of the Circuit Court, the High Court and the Supreme Court. She was adjunct professor of law at NUI Galway and has been president of the Law Reform Commission. She was also a legislator, having served three terms in the Seanad as a representative of the University of Dublin. In a sense, we are welcoming her back today. Her contribution to public life has also been made during her service on a wide range of public bodies. She is also a member of the Council of State for a second time. Some changes have, of course, taken place in the House since she last served in it. The spirit of reform which has both enthused and challenged us has been given some substance by a number of changes to our procedures, not least of which is the procedure by which the Seanad may invite persons in public and civic life to attend and be heard in the House. It is this procedure that has facilitated today's address. I have no doubt that the discussion with Ms McGuinness will prove its value. I again welcome her and invite her to address Seanad Éireann.