Fianna Fáil Spokesperson for Children, Robert Troy, has called on the Minister for Children, James Reilly, to take immediate action to reform the child protection and welfare systems and fully implement the recommendations of the Eighth Report of the Special Rapporteur on Child Protection.
Deputy Troy commended Professor Geoffrey Shannon and his colleagues for compiling the comprehensive report which points to significant deficits in the State’s child protection and welfare legislation and services. He referred to it as “an extremely valuable blueprint” for reform of the country’s child protection system.
“The report points out a number of changes required in the Child Care Act 1991, which is the foundation of our child protection system,” Deputy Troy said. “One of the most worrying issues identified are the detrimental effects of State and foster care arrangements on children. In particular, the report points out that sibling relationships between children are too often forfeited in decisions made by authorities when placing children in care.
“As Professor Shannon points out, one of the key issues repeatedly discussed by survivors during the Ryan inquiry into past abuse was the distress that children suffered as a result of being parted from their siblings. Yet despite all we know, we are still in a situation in 2015 where sibling relationships are not properly respected in the care system. Given the terrible history of abuse in our State care system, it is inconceivable that Minister Reilly has still not implemented some of the most important Ryan Report recommendations.
“The report also finds that budget cuts disproportionately affected the rights and needs of children with disabilities. As the report points out, there has been no coordinated State effort to help these children, including in the area of special needs education. Both Labour Party Ministers of Education, Ruairí Quinn and Jan O’Sullivan, in particular, have done a great deal to dismantle the automatic entitlement rights of children to special needs assistants and resource teaching support for children with special education needs in school.
“The report also identifies serious gaps in the vetting system and, in particular, the absence of an obligation for the Garda vetting unit to seek information from police authorities in foreign jurisdictions. This is an issue which can be easy remedied and one which I urge the Minister to take action on before the Oireachtas disbands.”