Needs of children 'not met' by court system


IRELAND NEEDS to move its childcare proceedings away from a courts system and towards an inquiry system, according to Children’s Ombudsman Emily Logan.

She said the adversarial court system was expensive and was not meeting the needs of children.

Ms Logan was responding to the report of the Child Death Review group into the deaths of 196 children either in State care or known to the HSE.

Speaking on RTÉ’s This Week radio programme, she said it was clear from this report and a multiplicity of other reports that there was an “absence of listening to children’s views”.

She pointed to the inquiry system that operates in Scotland as a way forward for childcare proceedings. She said the inquiry system operated around the needs of the child and family.

A system that operated in this way would be much more effective at meeting the needs of children and their families.

Ms Logan also highlighted the difficulties in accessing information. She said she had been unable to progress an investigation in 2008 about one of the children in the report because of resistance from the HSE. “The excuse that was proferred to me at the time was the restrictions on the in camera rule,” she said.

She was currently facing four legal challenges to investigations, not all at court level, which indicated “the operation of the in camera rule remains problematic, and as long as we allow that to continue the childcare system will remain as invisible as it has done until now”.

She said early school-leaving was one of the indicators, and there was a great possibility for teachers to play a role in child protection. “We should look to the integration of health and education” in the child care area, she said.