Response to Children First Guidance Publication

Published date: 
14 Jul 2011

Children’s Rights Alliance Press Statement
By Senator Jillian van Turnhout

Response to Children First Guidance Publication

“The Children’s Rights Alliance warmly welcomes today’s announcement that Children First will be placed on a statutory footing, particularly in the wake of the Cloyne Report earlier this week, which exposed the flagrant flouting of the preceding child protection guidelines.  Placing Children First on a statutory footing will change the culture of putting our heads in the sand, to one where we turn the lights on and tackle abuse in the full glare of inspection and the law.  This  could not have come sooner, given that the Alliance first called for Children First to be put on a statutory footing in 2006, during its reporting process to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.  We now call on Government to ensure that there is extensive consultation with NGOs and practitioners in relation to the Bill, to ensure that the legislation is framed appropriately. The revised Children First Guidance includes a focus on bullying and ongoing neglect, and this is also to be welcomed.

“Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald TD, should be congratulated for her strong stance on this matter since taking office, vowing that there be ‘no a-la-carte approach to Children First’, and that the ‘days of voluntary compliance are over when it comes to child protection’.  Today marks the start of a new era of protection for children in Ireland, with State agencies, such as the HSE and the Gardaí, along with voluntary bodies dealing with children, to be bound by a legal duty to report child abuse concerns, share relevant information and cooperate in the best interests of the child.  A statutory underpinning and inspection system will provide those working with children with a clear, legal responsibility to report and act on suspicions where a child’s safety or welfare may be at risk.  It will ensure consistency Ireland-wide: so that children presenting with the same situation will receive the same child protection response across the country.

“The significance of today should not be underestimated.  The State ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1992, and today marks real effort on the part of the State to vindicate Article 19: that governments should ensure that children are properly cared for, and protect them from violence, abuse and neglect by their parents or carers. We may not be able to stop incidences of child abuse altogether, but we are able to ensure that our response is appropriate and timely, reducing the chances of abuse happening in the future.”

Senator Jillian van Turnhout
Chief Executive


For more information, call:
Carys Thomas, Communications Director
Tel: +353.1.6629400
Mob: +353 87 7702845

Notes to Editor:
1. The Alliance first called for statutory underpinning in 2006.  See: From Rhetoric to Rights: Second Shadow Report to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (2006)
2. Children First 2011 – National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children can be found here:

Children's Rights Alliance