A researcher has hailed the “spectacular progress” made by a Castlebar-based children’s project and said its work was a model for other countries to follow. “What’s going on here in Mayo is of international significance,” said Professor Howard Stevenson of the University of Lincoln. He was speaking at the open day of MCI, an organisation for young people living with domestic abuse and family conflict in Ireland.
His comments were echoed by Emily Logan, the Ombudsman for Children, who told those involved in the venture: “Have big dreams, and I’m sure you’ll achieve them,” said Ms Logan, adding that “the power of small projects” should never be underestimated, and had the capacity to change children’s lives. The Ombudsman, guest speaker at the open day, said the proposed children’s rights referendum was the country’s big chance to get the issue right. She said those behind MCI should “share your experience” with the Oireachtas committee on children.
“Child protection is high on the agenda, but what’s not high on politicians’ agendas is child protection that crosses over the front door,” Ms Logan added. She said that while children were taught about “stranger danger”, the biggest danger for most came from “inside the home”.
Helen Mortimer, manager of MCI, outlined her vision of Ireland “as a country where children can live free from violence and abuse”. She noted that MCI had worked with over 500 young people in Mayo since its foundation in 2009, and its “main emphasis” was on “prevention and early intervention”.
Martin Waters of Castlebar St Vincent De Paul said he was “meeting children every week” in his work. “Things were never as difficult … and it’s going to get worse,” he warned.
Jim Power, chairman of MCI and co-ordinator of the Mayo County Childcare Committee, acted as Master of Ceremonies for the event.