DISAPPOINTING REPORT CARD 2011 SIGNALS NEED FOR STRONG ELECTION COMMITMENTS FOR CHILDREN
The Government has failed to live up to its promises to children for the third year running according to the Children’s Rights Alliance Report Card 2011, which has awarded Government an overall ‘D- grade’ today. With the General Election now imminent, Alliance Chief Executive, Jillian van Turnhout, calls on political parties to take their responsibilities to children seriously: by developing ambitious commitments to children in their election manifestos and providing strong delivery of a new Programme for Government.
Report Card 2011, now in its third year, is verified by an external assessment panel, represented at today’s launch by Justice Catherine McGuinness, President of the Law Reform Commission. Grades awarded in this year’s report include three ‘F grades’ (FAIL) in the areas of Alcohol, Financial Support for Families, and Children First Guidelines. The best grades were awarded for work undertaken in Early Childhood Education and Care and Social Work Provision, both receiving a ‘B grade’.
Jillian van Turnhout, Chief Executive, says: “For the third year running, the Government has failed to deliver on its promises to children. This is unacceptable and we are deeply disappointed. Investing and nurturing children and childhood is not only a moral imperative, but is also the surest way to secure a brighter future for this country. As we gear up for the General Election, I want to make one thing clear to all political parties: you can and must do more for children. And the Alliance will be here, watching for ambitious and achievable commitments in your manifestos, and then solid delivery on the new Programme for Government. This time next year, we will be a watchdog once again, scrutinising the new Government’s implementation of its commitments to children.”
In Ireland, we believe that we value children, but the startling evidence shows otherwise. Of the 30 commitments, eight have made progress or shown improvement, 15 remained static or information was opaque, while alarming backwards steps have been taken on seven commitments. Report Card 2011 outlines 36 immediate actions the Government must take if it is to deliver on its own promises. While some of these actions are dependent on increased funding, 15 – almost half – require no additional money, but rather call for departments to work together, processes and practice to be reformed, transparent decisions and monitoring, and accountability in the face of inaction.
Reacting to the Report’s findings, Mrs van Turnhout says: “Report Card 2011 offers little comfort to this Government, as nearly all grades either stay the same or are worse than those awarded in Report Card 2010. More than half of the recommendations made in the report do not cost a penny; simply by getting departments talking to one another – a simple case of the left hand knowing what the right hand is doing – would make a difference. It beggars belief that, for the third year running, our recommendations, our solutions – many of which cost nothing – have been simply ignored. And the economic crisis cannot explain this away.”
Justice Catherine McGuinness, President of the Law Reform Commission, says: “Once again I’m delighted to be part of the Children’s Rights Alliance Report Card Series. This plays an important role in the scrutiny of Government and spotlights the areas in which we must focus our energies, as a country. This exemplifies the very important role of the NGO sector and, I believe, can help change policy and services for the better.”
The full report (with grades) and executive summary is available for download on www.childrensrights.ie
For further information and interview bids, please contact:
Carys Thomas, Communications Director
Tel: (01) 662 9400 / 087 7702845; Fax: (01) 662 9355
Notes to Editor
• The launch of Report Card 2011 takes place at 11am in European Union House, Dawson St, Dublin on Monday 24 January (photo-call outside Leinster House: 10.15am)
• Grades will be announced at the launch in European Union House.
• Press packs, with an executive summary will be available at the launch. Embargoed copies available upon request.
• Alliance research is based on commitments taken from key Government documents, namely: the National Social Partnership Agreement, Towards 2016; the National Children’s Strategy 2000-2010; the Programme for Government 2007-2012 and the Renewed Programme for Government; the National Action Plan for Social Inclusion 2007-2016; and the Ryan Report Implementation Plan.
• The external assessment panel comprised Tom Collins, President, National University of Ireland, Maynooth; Pat Dolan, Director of the Child and Family Research Centre, National University of Ireland, Galway and UNESCO Chair in Children, Youth and Civic Engagement; Sheila Greene, Director of the Children’s Research Centre at Trinity College; Sally Anne Kinahan, Assistant Secretary General of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions; Danny McCoy, Director General, IBEC represented by Alan O’Kelly; and Justice Catherine McGuinness, President of the Law Reform Commission.
• Speakers at the launch are Chief Executive Jillian van Turnhout; and Justice Catherine McGuinness, President of the Law Reform Commission; the event will be chaired by Paul Gilligan, Chairperson of the Children’s Rights Alliance.