I propose to take Questions Nos. 6 and 8 together.
When the third optional protocol to the convention was opened for signature by member states in February 2012, I announced that it was my intention to sign the protocol on behalf of Ireland as soon as possible. My Department is currently finalising the State’s combined third and fourth reports to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, and a full update on the position in regard to the signature of the protocol will be given in that report. This is the first report to be submitted to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in over five years.
Due to the wide-ranging nature of the convention it has been necessary to consult with all Departments in regard to both the preparation of the new report as well as the new optional protocol. This is to enable full consideration to be given to the implications of signature. Once the report is finalised and submitted to the UN committee it would be my intention to sign the third optional protocol in due course on behalf of Ireland. Ratification would generally take place some time after that, once the State is satisfied that the necessary legislative and administrative procedures are in place to enable full compliance. This matter will be assessed by the legal unit of my Department in due course.
Ireland has signed but not yet ratified the second optional protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography and it is my stated intention to progress to ratification in due course, once I am satisfied that the State will be able to meet all its obligations therein. I recently discussed the issue of ratification of this protocol in a meeting with the UN special representative on violence against children, which took place in my Department on 11 June last, during the special representative's official visit to Ireland. We agreed that the matter would be prioritised in due course following completion of my Department's current work on the upcoming children's referendum, the submission of the State's next report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and the setting up of the new child and family support agency.
Many of the criminal law provisions of the optional protocol to the convention have already been implemented in existing domestic legislation. Legislative proposals that the Minister for Justice and Equality intends to bring to Government in the coming months will, I understand, facilitate compliance with the criminal law requirements of the optional protocol and other international related legal instruments. It is also proposed to put in place the necessary administrative procedures and arrangements to allow for accession and, subject to the advice of the Attorney General’s office, it is proposed to ratify the optional protocol and related international legal instruments as soon as is practicable. It would be my intention in due course to bring a joint memorandum to Government, with the Minister for Justice and Equality, to enable Ireland to ratify the second optional protocol, which has been signed by Ireland.