Top UN Children’s Body Provides a Road Map for Children’s Rights

Published date: 
4 Feb 2016

Top UN Children’s Body Provides a Road Map for Children’s Rights


Thursday, 4th February 2016: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has today (04.02.16) issued its findings on Ireland’s treatment of children. The Committee’s ‘Concluding Observations’ were developed following the examination of Ireland on 14th January in Geneva, Switzerland. The Committee’s findings are wide ranging, spanning from health, education, play, to youth justice, suicide and the voting age.


In response to the UN committee’s observations, Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance, said: “Overall, the Committee recognised that the Irish Government has worked to put in place essential infrastructure to protect the rights of children.  The changes to the Constitution, the introduction of our national policy framework for children (Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures), the establishment of the Child and Family Agency, and reforms in family law are among some of the important developments that have taken place in Ireland.  These are of course welcome, but the message from the UN – which is shared by the Children’s Rights Alliance – is that there’s still work to be done.


“Critically, the focus must now go on to delivering the nuts and bolts across services and supports for children.  Where Ireland is found most wanting is in the area of support for vulnerable and marginalised children.  Their rights and well-being must be a priority in the next programme for government.”


According to a review of the observations by the Children’s Rights Alliance, the UN Committee zoned in on the implementation of policy and legislation, and identified the steps we need to take to develop a culture of child-centred decision making. They called for measures across the public sector to be more child-centred and called for judges to receive training on children’s rights. In relation to children living in direct provision, the Committee criticises the lack of adequately independent oversight of Direct Provision. This is a tangible issue that the Government can address immediately.


“Of particular note given the General Election, the Committee praised the fact that Ireland has a Minister for Children and Youth Affairs with full Cabinet status – a major milestone which should be maintained under the next government,” said Tanya Ward.


Throughout the report, the Committee consistently highlights vulnerable children, in particular Traveller and Roma children. They express ‘deep concern’ about the number of Traveller children with no access to adequate water and sanitation and also call for a new strategy to address racism. The Committee expressed deep concern about ‘families affected by homelessness facing significant delays in accessing social housing and frequently living in inappropriate, temporary or emergency accommodation on a long-term basis’.


In relation to the area of mental health, they criticise waiting lists for access services and called for consideration to be given to establishing a mental health advocacy and information service that is specifically for children. Among their recommendations on education, they call for the State to ensure accessible options for children to opt out of religion classes. On the two key child’s rights principles – ‘best interest’ and ‘voice of the child’ - the Committee criticises current legislation. It called for the right of the child to be heard in court and, for such cases, the cost of an expert to support the child must be covered by the State.


The Committee noted the gaps in the lack of integrated services for children with disabilities and mental health difficulties in the care system, and the lack of adequate support for people caring for children with disabilities in the home.


Tanya Ward added: “It is clear the UN Committee listened to the young people from Ireland who they met. The young people spoke of the pressure that the Leaving Cert places on children and the Committee called on Ireland to consider reforming it.


“As the new Government puts together its Programme for Government, it is a timely opportunity for them in Ireland’s centenary year to make meeting the Committee’s recommendations a key commitment.


“The Children’s Rights Alliance calls on the next government to convene a Cabinet Sub-Committee to ensure these recommendations are implemented and to set a plan to fulfil these important recommendations.”




Notes to Editor

·         Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance is available for interview. 

·         ‘Are We There Yet?’ civil society report is available on the Children’s Rights Alliance website

·          ‘Picture Your Rights’ a report by children and young people to the UN is available on the Children’s Rights Alliance:

·         The UN Committee’s recommendations are available:

For further information, please contact:

·         Louise Archbold, DHR Communications, Tel: 01-4200580 / 087-2601145.