Call to overhaul system that fails vulnerable children


CHILD PROTECTION GROUPS:FAILURE TO correct the inadequacies in Irish child protection services will only serve to compound the ‘‘national shame’’ surrounding the abuse of children in religious-run institutions, a coalition of charities and victims’ groups has said.

In a joint statement yesterday, several leading agencies called on the Government to adopt a seven-point plan to overhaul the system which they said was continuing to fail vulnerable children.

The coalition, which included Barnardos, Cari (Children At Risk in Ireland), Childrens Rights Alliance, Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC) and the One in Four victims’ group, said resources had to be found to rectify existing problems such as the lack of out-of-hours social work services.

The groups said the abuses uncovered by the Ryan commission’s nine-year investigation had imposed an obligation on all of us to come to terms ‘‘with the fact that the rights of children were traduced for generations in Ireland’’.

‘‘We will compound that shame if there is a failure to act now, to ensure that no child in Ireland can ever be treated in the same way again,’’ their statement said.

As part of the national response to the abuse commission’s report, the agencies called for the adoption of a seven-point plan to improve children protection services.

The plan prioritised the establishment of a State authority to ensure national guidelines on child protection are ‘‘uniformly and consistently’’ implemented.

The guidelines would be put on statutory basis to ensure the compliance of public and private bodies, including church institutions.

The plan also called for the ‘‘necessary’’ resources to be made available so a proper system of child protection – including services outside normal hours – can be put in place.

The groups said they wanted an independent inspection process to be conducted on all residential care facilities for children and labelled the existing inspection process ‘‘a scandal waiting to happen’’.

As part of their plan, the groups called for an immediate recommitment by the Government to a referendum on the children’s rights and an end to what they described as the ‘‘long-fingering’’ of the issue. They also called for extra resources to be put in place to assist children who were ‘‘adrift’’ or homeless.