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Charity urges legal ban on smacking

A leading children's charity has called for smacking of youngsters to be made illegal.

The Children's Rights Alliance said it wanted to increase pressure on the Government to meet its commitments under international law and ban corporal punishment.

Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald has a deadline of September 27 to respond to the European Committee of Social Rights following a formal complaint against Ireland by the Association for the Protection of All Children (Approach).

The United Nations has also called for a ban.

As it stands under Irish law, parents, legal care-givers, childminders and foster parents have the right to punish children physically under reasonable chastisement.

Children's Rights Alliance chief executive Tanya Ward s aid the law is unacceptable.

"All forms of violence against children are wrong," she said.

"Physical punishment of children is invariably degrading and harmful. It is abuse and ill-treatment, it never does any good. Our law recognises that we cannot strike another adult; why can we still strike children?

"Ireland has a responsibility to protect our most vulnerable in whatever context harm may arise - be that in the family home, in foster care or with a childminder."

The Children's Rights Alliance issued the call to coincide with youngsters returning to school over the last week and asking why they are protected in the education system but not the home.

"The State can no longer continue to ignore international and domestic calls for this harmful practice to come to an end," Ms Ward said.

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