The Shame of Ireland

The Shame of Ireland

http://www.irishtimes.com/sponsored/ombudsman-for-children

Austin Currie

"I am a member of the Board of Caranua which operates the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund which was set up to help people who spent time in institutions in Ireland as children.


The survivors are all now middle-aged and elderly but they are a constant reminder to us all of the injustice inflicted by our society on young, defenceless children who are still suffering more than half a century later.


We have a duty to ensure it does not happen again.The Ombudsman for Children’s office should continue to develop and expand, strong in its independence and with powers and resources to enable it fully to promote the rights and welfare of children at home in Ireland and playing its part in fostering the rights set out in the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child."


Much remains to be done’

One critic of child care stated that we have good practice, superb practitioners and good procedures but we still don’t have a system – and that still holds true




Former Minister of State Austin Currie pictured at the launch of the Ombudsman for Children’s 2010 annual report. Photograph: Eric Luke

Former Minister of State Austin Currie pictured at the launch of the Ombudsman for Children’s 2010 annual report. Photograph: Eric Luke


 

As Minister for Children on December 23rd, 1996, I announced in a press statement my decision in principle to establish an Ombudsman for Children “to ensure the responsiveness of services to the needs of children and promote the rights of children”. The new institution would promote and protect children’s rights and be a symbol of our determination to ensure that the rights of the child were the paramount consideration.

The creation of the office of Ombudsman was a response to the then recent disclosures in the Brendan Smith scandal (which had brought down the previous government) and the report of the Kilkenny Incest Investigation (conducted by Justice Catherine McGuinness) which had been published the previous year, the first major child abuse inquiry in Ireland.

It had received wide coverage in the media, shocked the public, jolted the prevailing complacency about child welfare and provided the catalyst for the widespread overhaul and expansion of child protection services.

The proposal for the establishment of the Ombudsman for Children was welcomed as novel and challenging. The only existing Ombudsman for Children was in New Zealand.

It was part of a package of measures which was the response of the Rainbow Coalition government to the growing anxiety over recent exposures of child abuse and neglect and the fear that well-publicised cases might represent only the tip of the iceberg.

My appointment as Minister for Children (the first in Europe) to co-ordinate government policy on child care and children at risk was the first step. My two major responsibilities as minister were to fully implement the Child Care Act of 1991 and to enact a new Children’s Bill to replace the Children Act of 1908.

A central recommendation of the Kilkenny Incest report had been the full implementation of the Child Care Act. But by the time I came into office in 1994, only 17 of the 79 sections of the Act had been brought into effect.

The Children Act of 1908 had been good legislation, even revolutionary, for its time, but was clearly antiquated and a new Act was in gestation for over 20 years. The delay was principally through disagreements leading to turf wars between the Departments of Education and Justice.

I formed a co-ordinating committee on children’s affairs comprised of civil servants from three departments of Health, Justice and Education which I chaired, and started to knock heads together.

The Child Care Act was fully implemented on target and the Children’s Bill, comprising 230 sections, received its second reading in the Dáil.

Unfortunately the Rainbow Coalition did not have a majority in the Senate (the Taoiseach’s 11 members had been appointed by the previous Taoiseach) and had not passed into law before the government lost the election in 1997. Virtually unchanged, it was to become the Children Act of 1998.

The appointment of a Minister for Children, the creation of an Ombudsman for Children, a new Children’s Act and the full implementation of the Child Care Act represented a substantial contribution to child welfare and promotion of a government only two and a half years in office.

Unfortunately the defeat of the government led to a delay of six years until 2002 in the establishment of the Ombudsman.

One can only speculate on what effect the early implementation of the Ombudsman for Children might have had in remedying or ameliorating the scandals exposed by court cases and reports such as Kelly FitzGerald, west of Ireland Farmer, the Ferns Enquiry, the Ryan Report, the Murphy Report or the Roscommon Child Care Inquiry.

The recession of recent years has imposed greater burdens on our child care system but nevertheless there has been steady progress.

The office of Ombudsman has evolved to meet the new challenges. The number of complaints dealt with has risen from 94 in 2004 to 1,677 in 2013 and the scope of investigations has widened to include, for example, the establishment of an Independent Death Review Group and inquiries into the condition of separated and detained children.

The Ombudsman has made full use of her facility to offer advice to government on legislation affecting children. And of course the 31st amendment has enshrined individual rights for children in the constitution.

The role of Minister of Children has evolved and developed from a Minister of State with co-ordinating responsibilities to a Minister of State attending Cabinet to a full Cabinet Minister with a department of her own. The welfare of the children of the nation has been placed right at the heart of government decision making.

Much remains to be done.

I remember the criticism raised by Gordon Jeyes, the Health Service Executive National Director of Family and Children’s Services, when he said, “I don’t think Ireland has got a proper child protection system. It has good practice, it has superb practitioners and good procedures but it doesn’t have a system.” That criticism, I believe, is still valid.

I am a member of the Board of Caranua which operates the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund which was set up to help people who spent time in institutions in Ireland as children.

The survivors are all now middle-aged and elderly but they are a constant reminder to us all of the injustice inflicted by our society on young, defenceless children who are still suffering more than half a century later.

We have a duty to ensure it does not happen again.

The Ombudsman for Children’s office should continue to develop and expand, strong in its independence and with powers and resources to enable it fully to promote the rights and welfare of children at home in Ireland and playing its part in fostering the rights set out in the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child.

Views: 181

Comment by micheal on June 16, 2016 at 16:42

All these people are interested in is lining their own pockets on the backs of survivors they are the worst kind of parasite, if they had a real interest in helping survivors they would jump on board with our human rights application and run caranua how survivors want it run. Michael

Comment by Marylou on June 16, 2016 at 16:49

spot on michael

Comment by jack colleton on June 26, 2016 at 18:55

Absolutely We Continue To Need Legal Representation To Pursue Our Human Rights And Justice.

Comment by jack colleton on June 26, 2016 at 18:56

Without Such Legal Representation We Continue To Be Denied Our Human Rights And Justice.

Comment by micheal on June 26, 2016 at 19:17

Excellent point Jack

Comment by Marylou on June 26, 2016 at 19:29
Comment by micheal on June 26, 2016 at 19:38

Bloody hell, 

Comment by jack colleton on June 26, 2016 at 20:23

Shared On Twitter.

Comment by jack colleton on June 26, 2016 at 20:25

"It is thought to be the first time a senior political figure in Ireland has found themselves at the centre of child abuse allegations"   : -

Really?  Throughout The Decades So Many Factually Presided Over The Systematic Abuse Of Hundreds And More Children In Institutions Throughout Ireland.

Add a Comment

You need to be a member of The Shame of Ireland to add comments!

Join The Shame of Ireland

About

Rob Northall created this Ning Network.

Birthdays

Birthdays Tomorrow

CLICK TO FOLLOW SHAME OF IRELAND ON TWITTER

This is a Private Site

Membership is drawn from Survivors of the Irish Industrial School System their Family and Friends. Survivors of the Magdalene Laundries their Families and Friends are welcome too!

Others can follow on Twitter by Clicking the Button Bellow

Follow ShameOfIreland on Twitter

 Follow on FACE BOOK by Clicking <HERE>

Please Like this FACE BOOK Page?

Photos

  • Add Photos
  • View All

Badge

Loading…

© 2019   Created by Rob Northall.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service