Caoimhe Kelly, Graduate Intern 02/12/2019
On Tuesday 26th November, Michael Kiernan and I attended the ‘Know Your Rights’ launch by The Children’s Rights Alliance in Twitter HQ. The launch consisted of an introduction to the new guide, a panel of four young people and a second panel of representatives from contributing organisations, including Michael O’Flanagan from As I Am, Ian Power from SpunOut, and Julie Ahern from the Children’s Rights Alliance.
The new Know Your Rights Guide is a comprehensive information guide for children and young people about their legal rights and entitlements in Ireland. It is twice the size of the last guide published five years ago and contains more content on more issues than the previous guide. It is more accessible and much easier to understand than before.
The young people on the panel spoke that day very eloquently about their experiences of not knowing or understanding their rights. One young person wished they knew what the law stated when they were stopped by the Gardaí so they could have had an informed discussion and enforced their rights. Another said it is important for them to have the knowledge of their rights so they don’t feel powerless when they are faced with a problem. Ian Power from SpunOut told us the Garda Rights factsheet is the most visited page on their website. From this, it is clear that young people want to understand and exercise their rights so they feel can feel confident in their ability to protect themselves. Two other young people spoke about their experiences in the schooling system and the suppression of their right to speak up and stand up
for themselves in school. One young person wanted to exercise her right to attend a march. Her school attempted to deny her of this right saying she would be expelled if she attended. Instead of backing away, she exercised her right to march and got her whole year to do so as well.
Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance, spoke about the organisation’s focus and process of developing the new guides. Over the last number of years, it was made aware to the Alliance that children and young people often cannot access their rights, cannot understand them and do not know where to go for help. Parents have also been in contact with the Alliance as they also struggle to comprehend legal issues in order to support a child or young person. To combat this, the Alliance consulted with young people, including Foróige’s Reference Panel, and relevant organisations to create this new guide which is now accessible, easy to read, easy to navigate and rid of legal jargon. The full guide is available here. An app is in the making and will be available to the public soon.
You can follow the conversation on social media with #KnowYourRights