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Ireland ‘falling behind’ on children’s rights
Pic: RollingNews.ie

16 May 2023 / ireland Print

Ireland ‘falling behind’ on children’s rights

The Ombudsman for Children has said that Ireland is “not where we should be” in relation to children’s rights.

Dr Niall Muldoon (pictured) was speaking as the Ombudsman for Children’s Office (OCO) published its annual report for 2022, which showed that the office received 1,812 complaints last year.

This was down from 2,126 in 2021, when the office received almost 1,000 complaints linked to COVID-19.

Passport complaints

Almost one-third of the complaints were linked to education, with bullying, expulsion or suspension, and special-education resources featuring in many of the complaints.

The report noted an increase in complaints relating to justice in 2022, mostly due to complaints about passports.

The OCO promotes the rights and welfare of all children and young people under 18 years of age living in Ireland, and investigates complaints about services provided to children by public organisations.

Busiest years

It said that its work on many issues during the year had shown that Ireland was starting to fall behind on children’s rights.

“This was reflected in two major OCO reports to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and their subsequent concluding observations, which raised concern about the standard of living and child-poverty issues, mental-health services for children in Ireland, the lack of inclusive school places for all children, and the State’s failure to integrate children’s rights into legislation,” it stated.

Dr Muldoon described 2022 and 2021 as the busiest two years for the OCO since the office was established.

UN convention

Referring to remarks from the Taoiseach that he wanted Ireland to be the best country in Europe to be a child, the ombudsman said that, If this were to happen, “we need to finally incorporate the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into legislation – 30 years after its ratification”.

“We also need to totally reform our Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), which we know are hugely dysfunctional and failing our most vulnerable children,” Dr Muldoon said, adding that changes were also needed to provide inclusive education for all children in Ireland.

He acknowledged, however, that some positive things were happening, stating that the establishment of a Child Poverty and Wellbeing Unit, and the expansion of the school-meals programme would make a difference for children in Ireland who are experiencing poverty.

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