New Minister, New Department, New Programme for Government: Will it Mark a New Ireland for Children?

Published date: 
9 Mar 2011

Wednesday 9 March 2011: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

New Minister, New Department, New Programme for Government:
Will it Mark a New Ireland for Children?

The Children’s Rights Alliance warmly welcomes the appointment of Deputy Frances Fitzgerald as the new Minister heading up the brand new Department of Children, thus heralding a full seat at Cabinet for the very first time in Ireland.  The Alliance is delighted with the new role, which is a significant development and reflects its own recommendations to the negotiating teams of the Programme for Government and the real issues facing children in today’s Ireland.  Nevertheless, the Alliance encourages the Minister for Children to build on the excellent work of the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs as a foundation for the work of the new Department.

Jillian van Turnhout, Chief Executive of the Alliance, says: “Congratulations to Frances Fitzgerald, who is our brand new Minister for Children - no longer on a high chair but getting a full seat!  This will prove a crucial role in the coming months and years, if we are to create an Ireland that will be one of the best places in the world to be a child. The Alliance very much looks forward to working with the new Minister for Children, in her brand new Department, and to help and support her in her very important role to implement the positive commitments for children set out in the new Programme for Government:   Towards Recovery: Programme for a National Government 2011 - 2016.  The Alliance is very hopeful that the new Department and Minister will mark the beginning of a new Ireland for Children.”

The Alliance has today produced an analysis of the Programme’s commitments to children, entitled: Programme for Government 2011–2016: What does it say about children?  Key positives for children in the new Programme include commitments to:
• hold a constitutional referendum to strengthen children’s rights;
• implement the recommendations of the Ryan Report;
• establish a Child Welfare and Protection Agency;
• take an area-based approach to child poverty;
• implement progressive reforms in health and education, and invest in children’s health;
• remove children from St Patrick’s Institution; and
• make literacy a national cause.

But these commitments can only make a difference to children’s lives if they are effectively and consistently implemented.  The Alliance will work with Minister Fitzgerald to ensure that this happens.  The Alliance will monitor and track the new Government’s progress on implementation over the coming months and years through our annual Report Card series, published each January, and grade Government on how it is doing.


For interview bids and further information, please contact:
Carys Thomas, Communications Director
Tel: (01) 662 9400 / 087-7702845

Notes to Editor:

1. The Alliance’s Programme for Government 2011–2016: What does it say about children? provides a brief overview of key positives and negatives for children contained in the new Programme for Government, including verbatim extracts with direct relevance to children:
2. Towards Recovery: Programme for a National Government 2011 – 2016 agreed by Fine Gael and the Labour Party on 6 March 2011.
3. Minister Fitzgerald is the former Fine Gael Seanad Spokesperson for Children and an active member of the Joint Committee on the Constitutional Amendment on Children (which concluded its work with the publication of its third and final report on 16 February 2010).

Children's Rights Alliance