Children’s Rights Alliance
Government Awarded ‘C+’ Grade for Children’s Rights – the Best Grade in Four Years
“Glaring Violations of Children’s Rights” – Also Noted
The Fine Gael/Labour Coalition Government has today (23 January) been awarded an overall C+ grade in the Children’s Rights Alliance’s Report Card 2012 – it is the best grade achieved by any Government since the Report Card series was first published in 2009. The C+ grade is in recognition of Government’s decision to provide the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs with full status at Cabinet; the establishment of a dedicated Department of Children and Youth Affairs; approval for a new children’s hospital; and, most importantly, a firm commitment to hold a referendum on children’s rights in 2012. However, the Alliance also said it had marked down Government owing to “glaring violations of children’s rights”, most significantly in Budget 2012, which failed to protect children, plunging vulnerable families further into poverty, and for Government’s treatment of children in detention in St Patrick’s Institution (an E grade and F grade respectively).
Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance, said: “As new Chief Executive, it is a matter of great satisfaction to me to be able to award this Government an overall C+ grade on its key promises to children, particularly as it is the best overall grade in the Report Card series to date. However, it is not all good news, with Government performing poorly in some critical areas. The Government is allowing an austerity driven recession to trample on the rights of children and their families and it is also failing to act on the incarceration of young people in St. Patrick’s Institution. Ultimately, the grades awarded in Report Card 2012 are based on the new Government’s intentions. Next year, in Report Card 2013, we will be basing our grades solely on deliverables. But, I’m confident that, overall, this year marks a fresh start for Ireland on its journey to be one of the best places in the world to be a child.”
Report Card 2012 scrutinises the Government’s own commitments to children in the areas of education, health, material wellbeing, safeguarding childhood, and realising children’s rights. The Alliance has tracked 23 commitments within the Programme for Government. Emanating from this analysis are 29 immediate actions, recommended by the Alliance, that the Government should take in 2012 to promote the rights of children.
Attending the launch, Professor Pat Dolan, UNESCO Chairholder in Children, Youth and Civic Engagement and Director of the Child & Family Research Centre, National University of Ireland, Galway, said: "The establishment of the new Department of Children and Youth Affairs and Government's commitment to create a dedicated Child and Family Support Agency are very welcome and will, I have no doubt, prove milestones in helping to make Ireland one of the best places in the world to be a child. Fundamental reform of our child protection services is vital if we are to do our very best for vulnerable children and families requiring substantial support and protection - and I look forward to the Agency’s establishment."
Also attending the launch, Judge Catherine McGuinness, Member of the Council of State, said: “The Government’s commitment to hold a Children’s Rights Referendum in 2012 is very welcome. The Children’s Rights Alliance has spearheaded this campaign, and it is good to see the Government’s commitment included in the new format of Report Card 2012. The Government’s ‘B’ grade for its work in this area is deserved, and a successful referendum campaign will surely garner an ‘A’ grade in Report Card 2013.”
Sheila Greene, Former Director of the Children's Research Centre, Trinity College Dublin, said: “Report Card 2012 is the most recent of an annual series that tracks how the Government is or is not living up to its promises in relation to children. It is evidence based, relying on up-to-date and credible information such as that provided by the national longitudinal study, Growing Up in Ireland. At this critical time, the Alliance’s Report Card provides an invaluable overview of Government performance in relation to children.”
Sally Anne Kinahan, Assistant General Secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, said: “Report Card 2012 demonstrates to Government the value of accountability and, importantly, highlights areas for improvement. Despite working towards a shared objective, it is clear that many Government departments and agencies operate independently and in isolation from colleagues in other departments. This leads to lack of co-ordination at service delivery level, an inconsistent policy approach, and the compartmentalisation of children’s lives in line with the roles of different departments. Drawing attention to this, has been valuable in itself.”
The full report (with grades) and executive summary will be available on the Alliance web site from 11am on Monday 23 January.
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 2012 takes place at 11am in European Parliament House, 43 Molesworth Street, Dublin 2 on Monday 23 January (photo-call outside Leinster House, Kildare Street at 10am).
• Speakers at the launch are Chief Executive, Tanya Ward; Professor Pat Dolan and Judge Catherine McGuinness. The event will be chaired by Paul Gilligan, Chairperson of the Children’s Rights Alliance.
• Full series of grades will be announced at press launch; this is the fourth edition of this highly anticipated publication.
• 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 the Programme for Government 2011-2016.
• The external assessment panel comprised:
Professor Pat Dolan, UNESCO Chairholder in Children, Youth and Civic Engagement and Director of the Child & Family Research Centre, National University of Ireland, Galway;
Professor Sheila Greene, Former Director, Children's Research Centre, Trinity College Dublin;
Professor Colm Harmon, Director of the University College Dublin Geary Institute;
Professor Áine Hyland, Emeritus Professor and former Vice-President, University College Cork;
Sally Anne Kinahan, Assistant General Secretary, Irish Congress of Trade Unions;
Danny McCoy, Director General, Irish Business and Employers Confederation, represented by Kara McGann; and
Judge Catherine McGuinness, Member of the Council of State.
***EMBARGOED UNTIL 11am on 23 January 2012***