A GROUP “Parents for Children” established to advocate a No vote in the forthcoming referendum on the rights of children launched its campaign by holding a press conference in Buswells Hotel in Dublin yesterday.
Maria Mhic Mheanmain told the meeting that the group shares a common belief in protecting children with those on the Yes side and she continued, “Where we are divided is on how this should be accomplished […] We are opposed to removing the right of children to have their rights vindicated by their parents.”
The group consists of a variety of organizations the most prominent being the Christian Solidarity Party, Alliance of Parents against the State and a number of individuals such as the editor of the Alive newspaper Fr Brian McKevitt and solicitor Malachy Steenson. The meeting was addressed by Richard Green, Fr Brian McKevitt, Maria Mhic Mheanmain (chairperson), Solicitor Malachy Steenson and others
The group, in a press release, warned that parents are being "hoodwinked" into betraying their offspring by voting Yes in the children's referendum.
The press release also warns that if passed the proposed amendment will remove from children the most important right they have, the right to parental protection and advocacy. Children according to a press release currently have three levels of protection. First they have the same rights as every other citizen under Article 40, second the Constitution recognizes that being immature children are unable to defend their own rights and places on parents the duty to vindicate their children’s rights and finally , recognizing that parents can fail in this duty it places on the State the obligation to intervene and take the place of parents.
The statement continues that if as parents we vote for this amendment we are removing the second level of protection from our children, their right to parental protection and advocacy. The State will decide what our children’s rights are
The group is printing 26,000 leaflets in its campaign for a "No" vote.
Fr Brian Mc Kevitt accused the state of engaging in a massive "confidence trick" on children and parents to become the "parent-in-chief", and called the proposed amendment a reckless assault on family life in Ireland.
Fr Mc Kevitt also said that the real aim of the referendum is to deprive children and teenagers of the protection of their parents and to put conflict, ‘a clash of rights’ at the heart of family life. “If Passed” Fr Mc Kevitt continued “the amendment will lay the groundwork for a massive transfer of authority over young people and children from parents to the State.”
See Irish Independent article which includes video clips of part of the presentation
See also Irish Times coverage