Six of Mayo's general election candidates participated in a public debate on children's rights organised by the ISPCC at the Castlebar Campus of GMIT. The discussion, attended by more than 60 representatives of child organisations, aimed to highlight children's rights as an election
issue for candidates and the public.
Those present were Deputy John O'Mahony and Councillor Michelle Mulherin from Fine Gael, Councillor Harry Barrett (representing Dr. Jerry Cowley) for the Labour Party, John Carey of the Green Party, Councillor Therese Ruane from Sinn Féin and Independent Councillor Michael Kilcoyne and Martin Daly (Mayo Reform Party).
The main issue was the upcoming referendum on the Rights of the Child, though issues such as garda vetting, the development of a 24-hour child protection service, resources for children in State care and child protection legislation were also raised.
Speaking on the upcoming referendum, Deputy O'Mahony stated it would be a priority for the party, should it enter government, and it was hoped to hold the referendum by October.
Councillor Ruane spoke of how previous governments had failed children in the past.
Councillor Barrett said we were lagging behind other countries and needed to bring children's rights up to EU standards.
Councillor Kilcoyne commented on the general lack of accountability in the civil service stating: "Nobody lost their jobs in the biggest cases of child cruelty."
Mr. Daly, however, did not support the proposed referendum in its current form.
He said he was against legislation that would increase the state's excessive interference in family matters.
A number of candidates also attended a public meeting organised by carers of Mayo to highlight cuts to their allowances.
Many carers feel isolated and insulted that cuts were made in payments in the last budget while home care hours have also been reduced.
The need for more resources to be directed to young carers was highlighted at the meeting.