Children’s rights ‘report card’ gives Ireland lowest grade in six years

Tanya Ward

The State has received its lowest ranking in six years in a key report on children’s rights in Ireland.

The annual Report Card by the Children’s Rights Alliance awards a D+ to Ireland this year.

Speaking at the launch of the Report, Tanya Ward, chief executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance, said: “While there has been progress in a number of areas, overall this is the lowest grade in six years. This needs to change.

“In 2016 we have seen significant progress, with advances including the Affordable Childcare Scheme, LGBT+ Strategy, Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill and paid Paternity Leave having the potential to impact positively on a significant number of children’s lives.

“However, unnecessary delays in other areas have caused this low grade. Progress of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill has been stalled. Recommendations from the McMahon report are yet to be put into action, leaving girls and boys in Direct Provision without their basic needs met.”

The report gives particularly low grades for upholding the rights of certain categories of children, such as child victims of crime (D), children who are homeless and living in poverty (E), Traveller and Roma children (E) and child refugees and asylum seekers (D-).

There is just one 24-hour state service for victims of sexual assault under the age of 14, which is based in Galway and has been forced to temporarily close twice in the last two years due to funding problems.

Child victims of crime also face significant delays in accessing counselling support services. One support service in Dublin, the CARI Foundation, has reported a 200 per cent increase in families on its waiting list since January 2015.

Ms Ward said: “A child who has been sexually or physically abused or is a witness to serious abuse often has to wait up to six months before being interviewed for court proceedings.

“Six months is a long time in the life of a child. For a vulnerable, and at risk child, six months is an eternity.”

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