Committee to seek children's referendum

 

The chair of the Oireachtas Committee on Children has said it would be recommending that a referendum on the rights of the child be held.

 

Mary O’Rourke was speaking this morning as she launched One in Four’s 2008 annual report. The agency helps victims of child abuse towards recovery and also assists perpetrators of abuse in overcoming their inclinations. 

Ms O'Rourke also said she would said she would speak to Taoiseach Brian Cowen and Minister for Children Barry Andrews at the Fianna Fáil think-in in Athlone today over providing emergency funding for the agency.

Earlier Maeve Lewis, chief executive of One in Four, had spoken of the difficulty the agency faced in meeting the demand from new clients following publication of the Ryan report last May, due to lack of financial resources. Since then the agency had been contacted by an additional 700 people seeking help, she said.

She said the agency has dealt with more clients so far this year than it did in all of 2008, with 120 new psychotherapy clients and 491 advocacy clients attending for help. L:ast year, it accommodated 75 new psychotherapy clients and 426 advocacy clients.

“Ireland has been shamed before the world by the Ryan report. We may like to believe that such widespread abuse of children is a thing of the past. It is not,” Ms Lewis said. “Our child protection services are in disarray and affordable services for survivors are patchy.”

She said that “while we appreciate the very difficult economic climate, relatively small sums of money would ensure that the needs of survivors are met. I am very disappointed that Minister Barry Andrews has been unavailable to meet to discuss once-off emergency funding. Apologies to survivors without action are meaningless.”

Mrs O’Rourke also said he regretted that the emergency funding sought has not yet materialised and said she felt that what was being sought was “a small modicum of money in a huge sea".

She added: “I do hope I have some bit of clout (with the Government) and it is at the disposal of One in Four.”

She also praised the agency for “the very modern way it confronted these ills (of child abuse) in Irish society.”