NI: Children’s Law Centre (NI) turns twenty

Professor Ann Skelton
Professor Ann Skelton

The Children’s Law Centre celebrated its twentieth anniversary yesterday at the leading charity’s Belfast offices on the Ormeau Road.

On Monday 9 October, the Centre will invite the public to celebrate its China Jubilee at its Annual Lecture in the Old Bar Library at 3.30pm.

Professor Ann Skelton, a leading South African lawyer and member of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, will be delivering a keynote speech on ‘Realising the Rights of the Child under South Africa’s Bill of Rights’. Mr Justice Adrian Colton of the High Court will serve as chair.

Reflecting on the past twenty years, CLC founder and director Paddy Kelly told Irish Legal News that she is extremely proud of the Centre’s work, which has helped to improve the lives of thousands of children across Northern Ireland. However, Ms Kelly is far from complacent and sees plenty of challenges ahead.

She said: “Although there have been huge improvements in the law concerning children’s rights since our foundation two decades ago, there remains huge challenges that the Centre will continue to address. In particular, there is still not enough legal protection for children suffering mental health problems, or who have additional educational needs. Likewise, children subject to the criminal justice system in Northern Ireland often lack comprehensive legal protection.”

The Centre uses the law to access critical services for children and to challenge the discrimination and disadvantage suffered by many of Northern Ireland’s most vulnerable children.

Kevin Burns, Irish Legal News

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