Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Questions (117)

Robert Troy

Question:

117. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the action he has taken to ban child beauty pageants here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21044/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

As Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, I share the deep distaste of colleagues for events such as child beauty pageants which are not at all appropriate for children.

I have asked my Department to examine options which can be taken.

The answer, however, is not always legislative. I note that legislative proposals in France on banning pageants ran into difficulties in light of criticisms regarding the vagueness around the specifics of what types of events were addressed. Pageants can be labelled as ‘talent’ contests for example.

My Department has commissioned an international review of other countries' responses to these issues in order to inform the Government's response, and future actions; and the Centre for Effective Services is to undertake this review in 2014.

This research project will build on another current research project being conducted by University College Cork; commissioned and funded by my Department through its funded research programme which is looking at the impact of commercialisation and sexualisation of children in Ireland. This important research is currently undergoing peer review and is expected to be published in the coming months.

In 2012, I extended an invitation to the Irish retail sector to respond to increasing concerns about the sexualisation of childrenswear. Retail Ireland, responded to my call and accepted my invitation to bring forward Ireland’s first ever guidelines on the ‘responsible retailing of childrenswear’.

These guidelines are not just about restricting what retailers can sell, but instead provide a more constructive guidance on best practice on a range of issues such as styling, slogans, age-appropriateness, size, labelling and marketing.

I believe this code is now playing an important and constructive role in informing future decision-making by retailers and I am happy to report that the number of complaints regarding inappropriate childrenswear have fallen. However I would urge parents to continue to feedback any concerns or complaints, either in-store or by contacting retail@ibec.ie

An Coimisium le Rinci Gaelacha, The Irish Dancing Commission, is also to be commended for their introduction of additional rules prohibiting the use of make-up including false eye lashes and artificial tanning products for the face. Dancers who are ten years of age or younger may no longer compete using any of these.

It is so encouraging and praiseworthy that each of the hotels approached by Universal Royalty, the company promoting a child beauty pageant, back in September of last year declined the opportunity to host the contest. In the interests of children, they turned down the opportunity to make money. They have to be congratulated for that, as does the Irish Hotels Federation for opposing child beauty pageants in Ireland. This is yet another demonstration of the role of public opinion and awareness in avoiding inappropriate interference with childhood.