Thursday, 14 January 2016
Order of Business
Could the Leader arrange for the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade to come to the House? It has been reported that the Government is refusing to follow the lead of many other countries which have declared that the barbaric treatment and murder of Christians in the Middle East is tantamount to genocide. It would be sad if the Government here was denying that this is the case and not supporting that particular call by many states. Calling it genocide means that the perpetrators will have to face the consequences of their actions in due course under international law, so it would be highly desirable that we would have the Minister here to clarify the Government's position in that regard and whether those reports are accurate or inaccurate.
I refer briefly to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs who appeared before the Human Rights Committee of the UN, which is somewhat of a misnomer in terms of that committee but let us call it by its official title, even if it does not live up to the name. He mentioned specifically children who grow up in households where parents are effectively precluded from paid work and said they will struggle to be included in mainstream society in any meaningful way. He said that we know that household joblessness can lead to the transmission of poverty from one generation to the next and referred to the consequences for children in this regard. He said a good social policy and a strong expression of children's rights give every child the opportunity to realise their full potential. That is rhetoric but solid, tangible policy formulation and implementation is needed to achieve that. I refer to good social policy.
My question, to which we might ask the Minister to come to the House to reply, is about the initiatives being planned by this Government to support the institution of marriage. We know from CSO statistics and from much social research in other countries, apart from the small amount of research done here, that single mothers rearing children in particular are likely to suffer from the more extreme elements of poverty. They are not often in a position to work and, in general, they are very disadvantaged and not supported by the fathers of their children. That in itself is sufficient motivation for the Government to have a fairly proactive policy on ensuring that the institution of marriage is promoted and encouraged in a way that will reduce the number of children born outside of marriage where they are at much greater risk of living in poverty and being disadvantaged in the early formative stage of their lives, which subsequently has lifelong effects in terms of disadvantage on those particular children when they grow up. I would like the Minister to come to the House to discuss that.