Friday 25 May 2011
**CHILDREN’S RIGHTS ALLIANCE PRESS RELEASE**
SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON CHILD PROTECTION REPORT SHOULD BE DEBATED IN OIREACHTAS
The Children’s Rights Alliance warmly welcomes today’s publication of the Fourth Report of the Special Rapporteur on Child Protection, by child law expert, Mr Geoffrey Shannon, and calls for the report to be debated by the Houses of the Oireachtas. The Alliance also welcomes the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald TD’s request for a response to the concerns identified in the report from the HSE and from her new Department of Children and Youth Affairs. In her press statement responding to the report, the Minister pledges to prioritise legislation that would put the Children First Guidelines on a statutory footing. The Alliance has long advocated for this reform, which is a core building block of a robust child protection system.
Maria Corbett, Policy Director of the Alliance, says: “Once again, Mr Shannon has delivered a comprehensive and considered analysis of child protection in Ireland. This year’s report is particularly valuable for bringing to light hidden, and often forgotten, child protection issues and putting forward a number of practical recommendations in the areas of mental health, child trafficking and prostitution, youth homelessness, and children and criminal law. The recommendations contained in today’s report are not pie-in-the-sky aspirations, but real and concrete proposals that the Government must now act upon. Thankfully, the Minister’s statement has outlined concrete actions on the back of Mr Shannon’s report, including the urgent need for legislation to place Children First on a statutory footing. This action is long overdue, and legislation on Children First should be enacted by the end of 2011 – this would be a fitting tribute to Mr Shannon’s hard work and dedication. We believe that the Oireachtas should now debate the report and its recommendations in order to give the report the attention it truly deserves. Reports without implementation are meaningless, and we will continue to keep a close eye on the work of the Government in this regard. We know the problems, Mr Shannon has provided us with a road-map to overcome them and so we must now put our energies into making change happen.”
Mr Shannon, as Government appointed Special Rapporteur, is responsible for identifying gaps in Ireland’s child protection laws and systems, and submitting an annual report to the Oireachtas. Among his report’s recommendations:
- Introduce legislation to place the Children First Guidelines on a statutory basis, thereby creating a duty to report concerns of neglect or abuse of a child.
- Ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography.
- Ensure adequate aftercare support is put in place to assist children who leave State care in making the transition from childhood to independence.
- Undertake a comprehensive review of the coordination, implementation and continued relevance of the Youth Homelessness Strategy.
- Provision of a 24 hour ‘out-of-hours’ social work service and the discontinuance of the use of Garda Stations as part of the out-of-hours service.
- Instigate a range of reforms to ensure that children with mental health difficulties are appropriately protected, supported and have their voice heard.
- Reform elements of our criminal justice system, including introducing legislation to govern disclosure of confidential records and exchange of information between agencies.
For further information, please contact:
Carys Thomas, Communications Director
Tel: (01) 662 9400 / 087-7702845
Notes to Editor:
The Fourth Report of the Special Rapporteur on Child Protection can be found at http://www.childrensrights.ie/files/GShannon-4thRappReport1010.pdf