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Children’s Rights Alliance Bi-Annual Symposium 2009: ‘Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?’

Resource type: News

Children's Rights Alliance |

Children’s Rights Alliance is an Atlantic grantee. On 2 April, over 100 delegates descended on Dublin Castle to attend the Children’s Rights Alliance’s first biennial symposium, where they pledged to make Ireland one of the best places in the world to be a child. Entitled Children’s Rights in Ireland: Are We There Yet? Are We There Yet? Are We There Yet?, it became clear early on in the day, despite the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Barry Andrews TD’s attempts to say otherwise, that Ireland’s children are still waiting for real change. Thankfully, however, it is apparent from the feedback received, that the high-level delegates, including key government officials, social partners and NGO leaders, left the day feeling energised, resolving to identify at least one action to shorten the journey towards making Ireland one of the best places in the world to be a child. The President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, had much to do with this, as she gave a stirring speech, calling on those present to continue their work to bring change to children’s lives, stating that children ‘need to believe that there’s someone out there who dares to care about them, strangers though they may be to you’. Other distinguished speakers, including Maria Herczog, Member of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child; Ted Lempert, President of Children Now, a NGO based in California; and Phil Beadle, best known for his Channel 4 programmes, like Can’t Read, Can’t Write, also captured the mood of the audience. Ted Lempert, in particular, advised NGOs in Ireland to translate all policy calls into monetary terms, as this is what governments now listen to. A common theme was the current economic downturn. Jillian van Turnhout, the Alliance’s Chief Executive, was the first of many to urge the Government to invest in children, not least because it ‘made good economic sense’. The afternoon’s Questions and Answers panel, chaired by John Bowman, returned to the theme, where Government officials, including Dermot McCarthy, Secretary General of the Department of the Taoiseach, fielded questions ranging from tackling child poverty and educational disadvantage to the proposed referendum to strengthen children’s rights. An event report, including a synopsis of the key speeches and delegate contributions, will be launched at the Alliance’s AGM on 9 June and available here. Contact Details: Children’s Rights Alliance 4 Upper Mount Street Dublin 2 Tel: (01) 662 9400 Fax: (01) 662 9355 Email: Photos: Top: President Mary McAleese signing the pledge wall Bottom: Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Barry Andrews, signing the pledge wall

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