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It’s Our Brexit Too: How will Brexit impact on children’s rights?

Ombudsman for Children and NI Commissioner for Children and Young People come together to warn of the potential impact of Brexit on Children, young people from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

The Ombudsman for Children and the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People will together host a meeting of children and young people from North and South on the impact of Brexit. It’s Our Brexit Too, will take place in the Canal Court Hotel in Newry on Friday 10th November.

This meeting comes as the EU Network of Children’s Ombudspersons (ENOC) warn of the potential impact of Brexit on children and young people from both sides of the border. Children’s Commissioners and Ombudspersons in 23 European countries, have in a recent letter, highlighted the fragility of the peace process in Northern Ireland and called for decisions about Brexit to be formally assessed so there is no regression of children’s rights in Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland. They also call for the voices and experiences of children and young people who ‘may feel powerless in the face of a process that will  shape their futures’ to be taken into account.

Ombudsman for Children, Dr Niall Muldoon, speaking ahead of the It’s Our Brexit Too event said:

“Travelling around the country, and meeting with thousands of young people it became clear that children and young people north and south of the border have had little opportunity to voice their views on the potential impact of Brexit on their lives.

“Children and young people have a right to be heard and to have their views considered in decisions affecting them. As Brexit will, without a doubt affect them, we have brought together a cross-border group of young people who, have taken the lead in organising this event and inviting some key officials.

Koulla Yiasouma, Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, said,

“My counterparts across Europe and I recently raised concerns about the potential impact of Brexit on children. For example, we call for systems to be put in place as a matter of urgency to make sure children are fully protected from child trafficking, child abduction and child sexual exploitation. Detailed consideration must also be given to how the European Arrest Warrant and other cross border child protection measures are going to function.

Koulla continued, “Children from the UK living in other EU Countries, and Children from other EU countries living in the UK are uncertain about their status and residency rights, this has a profound and unsettling impact on their lives. Reaching an agreement on this issue must be an absolute priority.

“Young people have raised many valid concerns, like these, with me over the past few months but until today, their voices and experiences have been absent in the wider Brexit discussion.”

Matthew, a member of the Youth Steering Group said:

“I believe there are a lot of issues that chief Brexit negotiators haven’t even thought of in relation to children’s lives. I hope the report, which we will produce from this event, will make sure our voices, as the young people who will be most affected by Brexit, will be heard and will feed into the negotiations.”

Around 100 young people across Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland explored issues and scenarios with decision makers. A report will be presented to local, national and EU decision makers.