Wednesday, 21 October 2015
Children First Bill 2014: Report and Final Stages
I thank the Minister for the Children First Bill. With the amendment, the Title is absolutely correct, as has been very much proved by the Minister with the support of his officials. The opinion of the Attorney General was also sought in this regard and I thank the Minister for the clarification. I was not trying to put a damper on the Bill, but the point is that Garda resources are stretched. It is important, therefore, that the agency will investigate claims and that the matter may then go further.As the Minister said, that would be a very important issue.
I did not realise Mrs. Boland, widow of the late John Boland, was in the Visitors Gallery. She is very welcome. I was in the Dáil with the late John Boland when nobody in this House was here. He was an excellent Minister. It has taken a long time, from 1982 to 2015, to extend those rights. With respect to the Minister, the encouragement received from Senator Jillian van Turnhout and the support of everyone in the House certainly made it possible. We are all very pleased and honoured to be in the House today. Is it not amazing that it took so long? When the then Minister, the late John Boland, brought this forward, it was not as widely accepted as we may think. In fact, there would have been much resistance to it and educationalists felt the classrooms would be chaotic, that there would be no discipline, no power and no control but he proved them all wrong. That is one of his many legacies as Minister in the Department of Education. That stands out today because of Senator Jillian van Turnhout's amendment. It is a wonderful occasion. As we approach 2016, there is no better recognition of it than, after 100 years, we should give children rights as, I think, was envisaged in the Constitution and in the Declaration of Independence.
Senator Sean Barrett also said this was very good and something we should be pleased to say on the eve of the 1916 celebrations. That it will be enacted for 2016 is a very good day's work. I am delighted the Minister has taken on the portfolio for children and youth affairs with gusto. He has such authority in Cabinet that he was in a position to persuade it to accept the amendment tabled by Senator Jillian van Turnhout.