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Children’s issues ‘fighting for attention’
Ombudsman for Children Dr Niall Muldoon Pic: RollingNews.ie

21 May 2024 / ireland Print

Children’s issues ‘fighting for attention’

The Ombudsman for Children has said that children’s issues are “fighting for Government’s attention”.

Writing in his office’s annual report for 2023, Dr Niall Muldoon described the current climate for many children in Ireland as one of “uncertainty and instability”.

Referring to crises in housing, the cost of living, and international protection, he said: “These issues are all having an unquantifiable impact on children too, yet they are not necessarily seen as children’s issues, thus protecting the State from having to properly fulfil its obligation to them.”

“We see this particularly when it comes to children’s health and mental-health services, and for children with disabilities, whose parents often must fight tooth and nail for an appropriate school place for their child.

‘Waiting too long’

“Children are still waiting far too long for vital, life-changing spinal surgeries and our Children’s Mental Health Services (CAMHS) are not uniformly of a high standard across the board,” Dr Muldoon stated.

The ombudsman also said that legislation affecting children had not progressed as planned.

“We are still waiting for the review of the Mental Health Act to be published, the Parent and Student Charter has not been finalised and the review of the Childcare Act has not been completed in a way that fully addresses the needs of children,” he wrote.

Education top concern

The annual report shows that 1,790 complaints were made to the Ombudsman for Children’s Office (OCO) about children’s public services in Ireland last year – a slight reduction from 2022.

Education was again the biggest concern (40% of complaints), followed by health (23%) and complaints about Tusla (23%).

The report says, however, that complaints are becoming “more complex”, with one in five relating to more than one State agency.

Most complaints were about children aged 10-14 years (33%). Parents made 82% of complaints, while 3% came from children themselves.

Gazette Desk
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