Children's Rights: Motion (Resumed) [Private Members]

The following motion was moved by Deputy Brendan Howlin on Wednesday, 6 February 2019:
"That Dáil Éireann, in this the Centenary Year of its first meeting, re-committing itself to the imperative of the Democratic Programme and the principles of justice and equality, to support the development of all children, and in order to ensure a fair start for every child, declares that:
— it is the first duty of Government to provide for the wellbeing, education and development of children, regardless of their origins, and to provide them all with an equal opportunity to contribute, to the extent of their abilities, to the economic, social and cultural life of the nation;
— the accommodation of homeless families with children must be the immediate and urgent priority of housing policy;
— all children born and raised in Ireland should be entitled to Irish citizenship, regardless of the nationality or migration status of their parents;
— all children who are adopted should have access to information about their birth parents;
— same-sex couples who are parents should have equal parenting rights to those afforded to opposite-sex couples;
— the Government should ensure that quality childcare is genuinely available to all and is affordable;
— all children should be entitled to a prompt assessment of any special needs and the provision of whatever support services they may need; and
— the Government should ensure that primary education is genuinely free-of-charge, including through public funding of the cost of school books and uniforms and by outlawing mandatory contributions by parents to national schools; and
calls on the Government to:
— immediately implement actions to ensure no children remain in homelessness;
— immediately implement the Affordable Childcare Scheme announced in Budget 2019;
— immediately implement its commitment to providing free-of-charge general practitioner care to all children under the age of 18;
— prepare and implement a comprehensive strategy to eliminate consistent child poverty and material deprivation, with clear timeframes for its implementation; and
— report to the Dáil no less than quarterly upon the implementation of this strategy and in particular to report on current numbers of children in consistent poverty or deprivation."
Debate resumed on amendment No. 2:
To delete all words after “Dáil Éireann” and substitute the following:
“ — commits strongly to the principle of ensuring a fair start for every child underpinned by the principles of justice and equality;
— endorses the objectives of the Democratic Programme of the First Dáil by supporting the development of all children and by making provision for their physical, mental and spiritual well-being, to alleviate poverty;
— welcomes the overall increase of €107 million (8 per cent) over 2018 in the 2019 vote of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs;
— welcomes the increased investment in early learning and care by 117 per cent over the past four Budgets and the Government’s commitment to ensuring that high quality developmentally-appropriate early learning and care is accessible and affordable for families throughout Ireland and reflects diversity of need;
— welcomes the publication of First 5 as a whole-of-Government strategy to improve the lives of children in the birth to age five age range, and the lives of their families, which speaks directly to the aspirations set out in the Democratic Programme;
— welcomes the commitment to the introduction of the Affordable Childcare Scheme as soon as the Scheme’s regulatory, administrative, and information and communication technology infrastructure is in place, namely in October 2019;
— welcomes the commitment to the establishment of a statutory scheme to facilitate all children who have been adopted to access information about their birth parents to the greatest extent possible;
— reiterates the need for a continued focus on reducing the rate of child poverty through a coordinated approach by Government Departments through the Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures National Policy Framework for Children and Young People (2014-2020) implementation infrastructure;
— supports the overall work being co-ordinated by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs through the Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures process;
— notes the Government’s commitment to report on a regular basis on the efforts being made across Government to tackle child poverty based on the six priority actions contained in the Whole of Government Paper on tackling Child Poverty, published by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection in 2017;
— notes the commitment to reporting on the forthcoming Poverty and Social Inclusion Strategy which will be implemented by the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection;
— notes that the draft Civil Registration Bill 2019 makes technical amendments that will facilitate commencement of existing legislation that will allow both partners in a same-sex female relationship, who have been through a donor-assisted birth process, to have their details shown on birth certificates;
— welcomes the provisions of Parts 2 and 3 of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015, as well as the General Scheme of the Assisted Human Reproduction Bill 2017, which uphold the principle of equal recognition of same-sex and opposite-sex parents;
— notes that amendments were approved by Government to the Adoptive Leave Act 1995 on 6th November, 2018, and will be included alongside legislative provisions to introduce a new paid parental leave scheme, which was announced as part of Budget 2019, and the proposed amendments will afford the same entitlements to adoptive leave and benefits to all couples who are married, co-habiting or who are in a civil partnership, irrespective of gender;
— notes that the Government remains committed to the extension, in phases, and subject to negotiation with general practitioners (GPs), of free GP care to all children under 18 years;
— notes that Ireland confers citizenship to a child born on the island of Ireland, if one or other of its parents has been lawfully resident on the island of Ireland for three out of the last four years;
— further notes that Ireland has generally less onerous requirements for the acquisition of citizenship when compared to our fellow European Union Member States;
— notes that under Part 2 of the Disability Act 2005, any child suspected of having a disability and born on or after 1st June, 2002, is entitled to an Assessment of Need, to be conducted within a specified timeframe;
— agrees that timely access to assessments and services for children with additional needs is of the utmost importance;
— welcomes the fact that the Health Service Executive has a number of initiatives in place to improve services to all of these children, and that Budget 2019 provided for 100 additional posts specifically to improve the access to assessment of need and ensuing therapies;
— welcomes the Department of Education and Skills policy initiative, Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools (DEIS), aimed at tackling educational disadvantage in primary and post-primary schools, and the DEIS Plan 2017, which sets out the vision for future interventions in the critical area of educational disadvantage policy;
— welcomes the work being done by the Department of Education and Skills in supporting a range of interventions across the education continuum, with the objective of achieving its vision for education to become a proven pathway to better opportunities for those in communities at risk of disadvantage and social exclusion;
— strongly supports any measures that can be put in place to reduce school costs for parents, noting that schools must be sensitive to the financial pressures on parents in making decisions, not just about fees, but about any matter that has cost implications for parents, including, amongst others, uniforms and books;
— acknowledges that the Minister for Education and Skills has issued specific guidance to schools on the issue of costs (circular 32/2017) and the need for schools to do everything possible to keep costs down for parents;
— notes that the Minister for Education and Skills also intends that under the draft legislation on a Parent and Student Charter, schools will be required to consult students and parents regularly in relation to school costs and working to avoid costs acting as a barrier to participation;
— welcomes the commitments contained in Rebuilding Ireland, the Government’s Action Plan on Housing and Homelessness, to:
— increase the overall supply of new homes to 25,000 per annum by 2020;
— deliver an additional 50,000 social housing units in the period to 2021; and
— meet the housing needs of an additional 87,000 households through the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme and the Rental Accommodation Scheme; and
— acknowledges that supporting households experiencing homelessness is a priority for this Government and that Budget 2019 increased the funding available to local authorities for the provision of homeless services by over 25 per cent to €146 million.
-(Minister for Children and Youth Affairs).

I must now deal with a postponed division relating to amendment No. 2 to the motion re a fair start for every child. On Wednesday, 6 February 2019, on the question, "That amendment No. 2 to the motion be agreed to," a division was claimed. In accordance with Standing Order 70(2), that division must be taken now.

Amendment again put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 46; Níl, 77; Staon, 1.

  • Bailey, Maria.
  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • D'Arcy, Michael.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Halligan, John.
  • Harty, Michael.
  • Healy-Rae, Michael.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Moran, Kevin Boxer.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Neville, Tom.
  • Nolan, Carol.
  • O'Connell, Kate.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Rock, Noel.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Zappone, Katherine.

Níl

  • Adams, Gerry.
  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Barry, Mick.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Brady, John.
  • Brassil, John.
  • Breathnach, Declan.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Browne, James.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Butler, Mary.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Cassells, Shane.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Connolly, Catherine.
  • Coppinger, Ruth.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Donnelly, Stephen S.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kelly, Alan.
  • Kenny, Gino.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Lawless, James.
  • MacSharry, Marc.
  • Martin, Catherine.
  • McDonald, Mary Lou.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy O'Mahony, Margaret.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Murphy, Eugene.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • O'Brien, Darragh.
  • O'Brien, Jonathan.
  • O'Callaghan, Jim.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Keeffe, Kevin.
  • O'Loughlin, Fiona.
  • O'Reilly, Louise.
  • O'Rourke, Frank.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Rabbitte, Anne.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Scanlon, Eamon.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Smith, Bríd.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.
  • Troy, Robert.
  • Wallace, Mick.

Staon

  • O'Sullivan, Maureen.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Seán Kyne and Tony McLoughlin; Níl, Deputies Brendan Ryan and Jan O'Sullivan.
Amendment declared lost.

I move amendment No. 1:

To delete all words after “ensure a fair start for every child,” and substitute the following:

“affirms that:

— it is the first duty of Government to provide for the wellbeing, education and development of children, regardless of their origins, and to provide them all with an equal opportunity to contribute, to the extent of their abilities, to the economic, social and cultural life of the nation;

— a fair pathway to citizenship should be provided to all children who have been resident in Ireland for three years, regardless of their parents’ citizenship or residency status;

— the accommodation of homeless families with children must be the immediate and urgent priority of housing policy;

— same-sex couples who are parents should have equal parenting rights to those afforded to opposite-sex couples;

— the Government should ensure that quality childcare is genuinely available to all and is affordable;

— all children should be entitled to a prompt assessment of any special needs and the provision of whatever support services they may need;

— the Government should strive to drive down the cost of education for families, reverse cuts to the funding of schools and eliminate the need for mandatory contributions to be paid by parents to national schools;

— over 8 per cent of children consistently experience poverty and that almost one in four children are experiencing deprivation in modern Ireland; and

— the percentage of lone-parent households that are at risk of poverty has increased since 2016;

and calls on the Government to:

— facilitate the swift passage of the Parental Leave (Amendment) Bill 2017, which will 358 increase the amount of leave that a parent can take to care for their child and extend the period during which the leave can be taken to the first 12 years of the child’s life;

— allow for the swift passage of the Shared Maternity Benefit and Leave Bill 2018, which was introduced by Fianna Fáil to allow parents to share maternity leave;

— immediately commence sections 2 and 3 of the Child and Family Relationships Act 2015;

— immediately implement actions to ensure no children remain in homelessness;

— immediately implement the Affordable Childcare Scheme, as announced in Budget 2019;

— address the extremely lengthy waiting periods that are faced by children awaiting a disability assessment;

— increase the availability of vital disability services for children, including occupational therapy and speech and language therapy;

— increase capitation funding to schools around the country, thus reducing the need for parental contributions;

— immediately establish a register in order to facilitate adopted persons’ access to information surrounding their birth and to enable mutually agreed upon exchanges between birth parents and adopted people;

— prepare and implement a comprehensive strategy to eliminate consistent child poverty and material deprivation, with clear timeframes for its implementation; and

— report to the Dáil no less than quarterly upon the implementation of this strategy and in particular to report on current numbers of children in consistent poverty or deprivation.”

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 40; Níl, 34; Staon, 42.

  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Brassil, John.
  • Breathnach, Declan.
  • Browne, James.
  • Butler, Mary.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Cassells, Shane.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Donnelly, Stephen S.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Harty, Michael.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Healy-Rae, Michael.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Lawless, James.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • MacSharry, Marc.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Murphy O'Mahony, Margaret.
  • Murphy, Eugene.
  • Nolan, Carol.
  • O'Callaghan, Jim.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Keeffe, Kevin.
  • O'Loughlin, Fiona.
  • O'Rourke, Frank.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Rabbitte, Anne.
  • Scanlon, Eamon.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Troy, Robert.

Níl

  • Barry, Mick.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Brady, John.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Connolly, Catherine.
  • Coppinger, Ruth.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kelly, Alan.
  • Kenny, Gino.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • Martin, Catherine.
  • McDonald, Mary Lou.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • O'Brien, Jonathan.
  • O'Reilly, Louise.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Bríd.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Wallace, Mick.

Staon

  • Bailey, Maria.
  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • D'Arcy, Michael.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Halligan, John.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Moran, Kevin Boxer.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Neville, Tom.
  • O'Connell, Kate.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Rock, Noel.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Zappone, Katherine.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies John Brassil and John Lahart; Níl, Deputies Brendan Ryan and Jan O'Sullivan.
Amendment declared carried.
Motion, as amended, agreed to.
Sitting suspended at 1.45 p.m. and resumed at 2.25 p.m.