On Wednesday the Ombudsman for Children, Dr Niall Muldoon, published his annual report for 2015, outlining the impact the office has had in dealing with 1,639 complaints made by, or on behalf of, children across every sector.
Outlining the number of cases that his office dealt with in Mayo Dr Muldoon said, “In 2015 three per cent of the 1,639 complaints came from Mayo, affecting almost 50 children in the county. By inviting schools into our office, and by travelling the country, we are meeting more children and young people from all over the country, including Mayo. It is clear that children are dealing with a range of issues and that cooperation between all departments is vital."
He added: "2015 was another record year for the Ombudsman for Children’s Office [OCO], with an eight per cent increase in the number of complaints received and successful interaction with 850 children and young people.
“Once again education, at 45 per cent, was the subject of the largest number of complaints received by the OCO in 2015. We examined complaints across a wide range of areas of education affecting children, but the majority specifically related to schools.
“It is my view that the autonomy afforded to Irish schools means that the Government has not been able to exercise the necessary responsibility and oversight. It is time to recalibrate the balance between the autonomy of schools and the oversight by Government to advance and protect children’s rights within the education system.
“In 2015, 25 per cent of complaints received by the OCO related to family support, care and protection, making it the second highest category. The management of child protection concerns were the most regularly raised issues.
“In dealing with these complaints we experienced repeated and significant delays by TUSLA, the Child and Family Agency. We raised this issue with TUSLA and intend to monitor it closely, as it is unfair to children and others that come to us with their complaint.
“The health sector was the subject of 14 per cent of our complaints in 2015, up from 11 per cent in 2014. We received complaints about waiting lists for services including hospital procedures, mental health services, speech and language therapy, and psychology. Many parents also highlighted the challenges of obtaining services for their children, especially children with disabilities."
He concluded: “Children’s rights in Ireland is an unfinished project. I will continue with my team to liaise with all departments and public organisations, to work towards an Ireland where all children and young people are actively heard and respected, so that they can experience safe, fulfilling, and happy everyday lives.”