Thursday, 11 July 2013: For immediate release
Alliance Calls for Urgent Action on Hard-Hitting Special Rapporteur Report
The Children’s Rights Alliance warmly welcomes today’s publication of the Sixth Report of the Special Rapporteur on Child Protection by Dr. Geoffrey Shannon. The Alliance calls for urgent action by Government to implement the recommendations contained in this hard-hitting report and for the report to be fully debated in both Houses of the Oireachtas.
Maria Corbett, Acting Chief Executive of the Alliance, says: “Once again, Dr. Shannon has delivered an insightful analysis of Ireland’s child protection landscape. His findings are sobering and demonstrate that we still have a long way to go to uphold the rights of children in Ireland. It raises a substantial number of red flags that demand Government action to ensure children’s rights are protected.”
“The Alliance also warmly welcomes the decision to reappoint Dr. Shannon as Special Rapporteur on Child Protection for a further three years. We interpret this decision as an indication that the Government is serious about child protection.”
“While acknowledging that many of the recommendations are cross-departmental in focus, the Alliance believes that the Department of Children and Youth Affairs must take the lead on monitoring and co-ordinating the implementation of the outstanding recommendations from the six reports of the Special Rapporteur, as well as those from other important reports such as the Ryan Report Implementation Plan.”
“2013 offers a significant opportunity to implement the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur given the development of the Child and Family Agency, the promised Family Relationships and Children Bill and possible amendments to child care and other legislation flowing from the constitutional amendment on children.”
Shannon’s report clearly frames issues through a child protection and children’s rights lens. It contains innovative recommendations, including:
- Bullying: We welcome the recommendation that homophobic and transphobic bullying in schools be considered a child protection issue and that legislation should be introduced to mandate schools to have stronger disciplinary codes. These recommendations and the full implementation of the 2013 Department of Education and Skills’ Action Plan On Bullying must be urgently progressed to bring about cultural change within schools
- Family Law: We welcome the recommendation that provision be made for special guardianship rights to step-parents and civil partners who are not the child’s biological parent; and consideration be given to the further extension of certain rights and obligations to members of the child’s broader family acting in loco parentis. This echoes the Alliance’s Report Card 2013 call for reform of the law on guardianship to ensure that a child’s rights can be vindicated by the people in their lives that fulfil the parenting role.
- Budget: We welcome the recommendation that explicit reference be made in the next Budget as to how children’s rights were taken into account in the budgetary process. Child rights proofing of all budgetary decisions is an ongoing recommendation of the Alliance’s Report Card and Pre-Budget Submissions.
- School Attendance: We welcome the recommendation that consideration be given to introducing a new system of Education Supervision Orders similar to the UK, and to extend the powers of the National Education Welfare Board (NEWB) to intervene with parents of children under 6 years. Within the new Child and Family Agency, the work of the NEWB must be maintained and developed. Intervening early and working co-operatively with parents to keep children in school is essential to identifying child protection and welfare concerns and ensuring positive outcomes for children.
- Asylum seeking: We welcome the recommendation to establish a child-centred asylum system in terms of age assessment, the appointment of an independent guardian, and service provision that conforms with international best practice. The forthcoming Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill must comply with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
- Disclosure of Reports: He repeats his recommendation on the disclosure to third parties of confidential records relating to children in child sexual abuse cases (raised in the 2010 Report). This is timely given the amendment proposed by Senator Jillian van Turnhout recently in relation to the Courts and Civil Law Bill 2013.
- Optional Protocols: He also repeats his call for the ratification of the Second and Third Optional Protocols to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (raised in the 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2011 Reports). Ireland is now only one of two EU member states that have failed to ratify the second Optional Protocol relating to the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. Ratification of both Protocols must be addressed prior to Ireland’s next examination under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
For further information, please contact:
Emma McKinley, Communications and Development Manager
Tel: (01) 662 9400 / 087-7702845
Notes to Editor:
• The Sixth Report of the Special Rapporteur on Child Protection can be found here http://childrensrights.ie/resources/sixth-report-special-rapporteur-child
• Children’s Rights Alliance Report Card 2013 can be found here http://bit.ly/15GtfLc
• Children’s Rights Alliance Pre-Budget Submission 2014 can be found here http://bit.ly/15tvkdw