United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence Against Children visits Ireland

Dublin (Ireland) 12 June 2012 - The United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence Against Children, Marta Santos Pais left Dublin this evening at the end of a two day visit to participate in an international jury to oversee the design competition of a memorial to victims of childhood abuse in institutions in Ireland.  The commissioning of a memorial was recommended by the Ryan Report. The jury is expected to deliver its recommendations to the Minister for Education and Skills Mr Ruairi Quinn T.D. shortly.

The visit by SRSG Santos Pais is a recognition of the importance of acknowledging and paying tribute to victims of child abuse and addressing violence against children in all its forms.

“The Memorial is a reminder of past suffering, but also an expression of the commitment for demanding action to prevent abuse and fight impunity”, said the SRSG.

The Special Representative participated in the jury at the invitation of Minister Quinn whom she met yesterday. The Minister commented "I am delighted that Ms. Santos Pais agreed to participate as an international member of the jury to select the Memorial and has been able to come to Ireland to collaborate with the other members of the jury in their work. 

Her willing involvement in this project is a testament to the seriousness with which we, and our colleagues in the UN, take this dark chapter in our country's history. I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation to all the jury members for their work on this important project.  The Memorial was recommended in the Ryan Report, which was fully endorsed by Dáil Éireann."

The Special Representative also met the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Ms Frances Fitzgerald T.D. during which she discussed progress towards ratification by Ireland of the second optional protocol to the UN Convention on the rights of the child. They also had a general discussion on the work of the Minister and her Department, as a follow up to the UN Study on Violence Against Children.  This included child protection issues and implementation of recommendations from recent reports and enquiries into child sexual abuse in Ireland.

Minister Fitzgerald welcomed the opportunity for dialogue with the Special Representative during her visit, particularly in the context of the preparation at the present time of  Ireland’s first report since 2005 to the UN Committee for the rights of the child.

During her visit, the Special Representative met also with the Primate of Ireland and Archbishop of Dublin Dr Diarmuid Martin; the Ombudsman for Children, Ms. Emily Logan; the Children's Rights Alliance and UNICEF Ireland. Amongst the topics discussed was the safeguarding of the rights of the child and children's protection from violence.

The visit was facilitated by Ms Audrey Ryan, formerly of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.