21 February 2017

Labour spokesperson on Children and Youth Affairs, Jan O’Sullivan TD, says today’s Report Card from the Children’s Rights Alliance shows the Government is close to all-out failure in the area of children’s welfare.

The Government has been given a D+ overall in its progress since taking office, the lowest grade recorded in six years.

Deputy O’Sullivan commented:

“The Children’s Rights Alliance continues to do a fine job in carefully monitoring progress from year to year. I welcome improvements reported here in certain areas, such as progress for LGBT+ teens and the implementation of paid paternity leave, which was a priority for the Labour Party in Government. But this Report Card shows that Ireland is sadly going backwards on its record on child welfare, with the Government scoring its lowest grade in six years.

“This is particularly disappointing as the passing of the referendum which inserted the Rights of Children into the constitution was a milestone, and should have been the foundation for steady progress in advancing children’s rights and welfare across all Government Departments. We should, for example, be seeing improvements in waiting times for the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. Yet despite pledging to fully implement the Vision for Change in mental health in the Confidence and Supply agreement with Fianna Fáíl, there has been no improvement in this area, with the Children’s Rights Alliance asserting that some of the most serious issues for young people, including long waiting lists for those seeking help, have still not been addressed.

“When it comes to education, the Government has scored a D+ grade – a significant dip in performance compared to each of the last five years, when under Labour Education Ministers this area was awarded a B or B- grade. Just last summer, we proposed a Bill to amend the Equal Status Act and redress the imbalance between the right to maintain denominational schools and the rights of children to receive a secular education in a State-funded school. But this was kicked to touch by the Government with the announcement of public consultations on the matter, which demonstrated a lack of real commitment in this area.

“It is also disappointing that recommendations in the McMahon Report on children in Direct Provision have not been implemented. My colleague Aodhán Ó Ríordáin did enormous work in driving the working group on Direct Provision, but a complete lack of implementation of the recommendations in that report explains the D- grade awarded to the Government in this area.

“If the rights of children, now enshrined in the Constitution, are to be vindicated, a blueprint for action across Government Departments is urgently needed. Our children deserve political priority. The Report Card published today has shown that the Government, along with their colleagues in Fianna Fáil, simply don’t agree with that.”

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