This is a newsletter from Senator Jillian van Turnhout. 

Email Newsletter - June 2015

Dear <<First Name>>

I am delighted to bring you this latest round-up of some of the key issues I am working on in the Seanad, the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children and beyond:
Marriage Bill 2015
Gender Recognition Bill 2014
Corporal Punishment
Childline Recognition Award 2015
Children Amendment Bill
Alcohol Related Work
Launch of National Carers Week 2015
This is a very exciting and busy time as I endeavour to bring a number of pieces of work to fruition.  As ever, I am open to hearing from you, meeting with you, listening to your views and progressing our mutual issues.
You can read more about my work on my website
Best wishes,

Marriage Bill 2015

We are so privileged to live in a democracy where the people have the power to shape, change and define the direction of the country. On Friday 22 May, the people of Ireland voted on the questionof marriage equality and returned a landslide victory in favour of the proposition. The result is so much more than what it says on the tin.It is an absolute and definitive reflection of a societal shift that has been developing in Ireland for some time. The people have spoken and we have said “welcome to 21st Century Ireland, which is open, inclusive, generous, fair, and tolerant.”It is an Ireland I am extremely proud to live in and an Ireland that I hope continues to go to battle for the promotion and protection of minority rights in Ireland. You can read my contribution to the Thirty-fourth Amendment of the Constitution (Marriage Equality) Bill 2015, when it came before the Seanad in March here.

I warmly welcome the recent announcement by the Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald TD, to enact the Marriage Bill 2015 by the end of July. The Bill will give effect to the will of the people by enabling two persons to marry in accordance with law without distinction as to their sex. It will also set out the transitional arrangements that will apply where civil partners wish to get married. I look forward to playing my role in the passage of the Bill through the Seanad. 

Gender Recognition Bill 2014

The Gender Recognition Bill 2014 is provisionally listed for consideration by the Dáil Select Sub-Committee on Social Protection on Wednesday 17 June. I am very glad to see that common sense has prevailed with the Government agreeing to allow persons aged 18 years and over to apply for a gender recognition certificate on the basis of a self-declaration of their gender and by removing the controversial “forced divorce” clause. However, I am extremely disappointed that my concerns about the treatment of vulnerable trans children and young people under the Bill, which you can read here, have been ignored.
Trans children are effectively being told to sit in the corner and wait. This just isn’t good enough and furthermore, I am genuinely concerned that the failure of the Bill to make any provision for children under the age of 16 and the manner in which the 16-18 year old cohort are being dealt with will fall foul of the new children’s rights Article in the Constitution, which places an onus on the Legislature to ensure:

  • the best interests of the child are the paramount consideration;
  • the views of the child are heard when key decisions are made about their lives;
  • the evolving capacity of the child is facilitated.

I will continue to advocate strongly for the promotion and protection of transchildren’s right to have their preferred gender recognised by law.

Corporal Punishment

On 27 May 2015, the European Committee of Social Rights ruled, once again, that Ireland is in violation of the European Social Charter because all corporal punishment of children is not prohibited. I consistently called on the Government to urgently bring forward a ban on corporal punishment of children. Let's act now to protect all children in all settings.

Childline Recognition Award 2015

Having long been a supporter and advocate of ISSPC’sChildline service, I was truly honoured to receive the Childline Recognition Award 2015 in EU House on 20 April. I was in wonderful company on the day with CEO Grainia Long, Director of Services Caroline O’Sullivan, ISPCC staff, Childline volunteers and fellow Childline ambassadors and awardees Ryan Tubridy, Saoirse Ronan (represented on the day by her mum Monica), David Coleman (in absentia) and Kate Brennan Harding.

The importance of listening to children cannot be overstated and since its establishment in 1998, Childline has been providing a trusted, recognised and invaluable service to children and young people throughout Ireland. I will continue to do all I can to support ISPCC and Childline, including by continuing to host the annual Oireachtas Coffee Morning for Childline in October. 

Children Amendment Bill

The Children Amendment Bill 2015 is currently making its way through the Seanad. The Bill facilitates the amalgamation of the three detention schools on the Oberstown site into one legal entity. The practical effects of this change will be the creation of a single management team, payroll system, staff rota, and so on. Crucially, with regard to governance, it will lead to integrated practices, operational consistency, coherence of model and the appointment of one Director. The proposed amalgamation is critical to the success of Oberstown and I welcome it. There are a few issues of concern for me in the Bill such as: the separation of remanded and detained children; the disciplinary system; ensuring that the principles of the best interests of the child and detention as a measure of last resort for children are enumerated throughout the Bill; and ensuring the State’s focus on child-friendly justice. You can read my contribution at Second Stage of the Bill here.

Alcohol Related Work

I continue to actively engage both inside and outside the Oireachtas on the prevention and reduction of alcohol related harm. You can read my recent Commencement Matter in the Seanad on the role of the drinks industry in schools, followed by my Seanad Statement in on alcohol consumption in Ireland.
We have commenced our pre-legislative scrutiny on the General Scheme of thePublic Health (Alcohol) Bill in the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children. Further details on the hearings and submissions can be found here.

On 21 April 2015, I attended the Girls, Women and AlcoholConference organised by Alcohol Action Ireland. It was a highly educational day with international and Irish speakers examining the factors influencing the changing culture of drinking among Irish girls and women, and the harms they are experiencing as a result. I will certainly be bringing my learning into my policy and legislative roles.


I continue to advocate that the Inter-Departmental Group on Future Investment in Early Years and School-Age Care and Education Services prioritise investment in Early Years Education and Care. The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children are currently holding a series of hearings on this issue and I am working with our Committee Rapporteur Sandra McLellan TD to ensure we hear a cross range of experience and evidence.

On 13 May, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, James Reilly TD, was before the Seanad to hear Statements on Early Childcare. You can read my contribution here.

Launch of National Carers Week 2015

I was delighted to speak at the launch of the 9th National Carers Week here in Dublin on Monday 8 June. National Carers Week runs from 8 June through 14 June to celebrate the role and contribution of Family Carers. Issues around care and caring will touch us all at some stage in our lives. Indeed Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter recognised this by identifying four kinds of people in the world: those who have been caregivers; those who currently are caregivers; those who will be caregivers; and those who will need caregivers. In my experience it is often the language and medical terms employed by the medical profession are among the most difficult obstacles for carers and care recipients. For more information on the 150 plus events taken place around Ireland this week, please visit National Carers Week Facebook Page.


Independent Group

Contact me

Senator Jillian van Turnhout,
Seanad Éireann,
Leinster House,
Kildare Street,
Dublin 2,

(01) 618 3375
+353 (0) 1 618 3375



Copyright © 2015 Jillian van Turnhout, All rights reserved.
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