Finlay questions ability to protect children


THE PUBLIC’S faith in Ireland’s child protection system has been shattered, an Oireachtas committee has heard.

The chief executive of the children’s charity Barnardos, Fergus Finlay, told the committee on health and children serious concerns about the Health Service Executive’s (HSE) ability to fully safeguard those at risk of harm had been raised.

“It is time to look at whether the HSE is in fact fit for purpose when it comes to child protection. Issues that have come to light recently would indicate that it is not,” Mr Finlay said.

He said there were inconsistencies in child-protection practice across the country and called for “real political leadership and will to address the serious issues at hand”.

Mr Finlay said the Government had made a “robust and historic” promise, following the publication of the Ryan report, to ensure children were better protected in future. “Progress has been made but it is slow,” he added.

Meanwhile, the committee heard legislation to vet individuals working with children was still not in place. Caroline O’Sullivan from Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children said this was having a hugely negative impact on organisations working with children across the country.

Ms O’Sullivan said any “legal stumbling blocks” in the way of the promised referendum on children’s rights must be overcome. The nature of such obstacles was not clear, she added.