Brexit poses unanswered challenges on children’s and young people’s rights

Paddy Mooney, Director of Include Youth has stated that, as Brexit happens at 11pm on January the 31st, there remains concerns with regards to the potential impact on children’s rights, the future of children in care and service provision for the youth sector.

 Speaking today Mr Mooney said: 

 "As the date and time for the UK to leave the European Union arrives there remains concerns in terms of the long term impact of Brexit on children, young people and their rights.

“Brexit will have a defining impact on children and young people in the years ahead despite that fact that this particular generation did not have a say in any future arrangements.  

“In terms of the future of children’s rights there are concerns with regards the removal of the Charter of Fundamental Rights which will remove protections for children which are not contained with the Human Rights Act, especially the protection of a child’s best interests.

“We have, even before Brexit actually occurs, witnessed MP’s debating and voting on the EU withdrawal bill, voting down an amendment to ensure that unaccompanied child refugees would have guaranteed family reunion rights. Children’s best interests were not at the heart of this decision. 

“There is also the discrepancy that children who possess Irish passports in Northern Ireland will continue, according to Michel Barnier to be EU citizens and as a result we assume will continue to avail of European rights protections. But what of those children who own a British passport in the same circumstances? Will these children’s rights be compromised? We do not know. This essentially, as it stands, creates a two tier system of access amongst children living in Northern Ireland.

“In terms of service provision, despite the loss of access to European funding for the community and voluntary sectors providing youth services there remains no certainty as to the shape or the amount of funding available under the proposed replacement of this funding by Westminster,  the Shared Prosperity Fund.

“Given that we have endured a period of Westminster driven austerity, already undermining the sector, very real concerns remain on any future funding for the sector and children’s services.

“Our concerns do not end there.  We expect a rise in the cost of living which will exacerbate already high levels of child poverty alongside potential job losses as industries relocate to areas within the EU, reducing employability options for our young people.

“What we need to see in the coming weeks is an acknowledgement by the Westminster government of these very real concerns for the future of our children post Brexit. Those working closest with children and young people feel that we have a responsibility to voice our concerns and we simply cannot remain silent in the face of such uncertainty.  We, along with those we support must be heard in any post Brexit scenario.”