Ombudsman for child rights suggested


THE Government should establish an independent statutory children's ombudsman, or commissioner, to promote and protect children's rights, according to a report commissioned by the Children's Rights Alliance.

The report, entitled Seen and Heard, was yesterday presented to the Minister of State with responsibility for child care, Mr Austin Currie.

It recommends that the office of children's ombudsman should have a statutory basis, but its decisions should not be legally binding, as in the case of the existing Ombudsman's office. According to the report, this would allow the children's ombudsman to operate pragmatically and flexibly, avoiding a legalistic and adversarial approach.

The office, which would cost about £500,000 annually, should set in place procedures to consult children on all aspects of its work, the report suggests. It also recommends that the children's ombudsman should, where necessary, be able to take legal action before the Irish or European courts.

Mr Currie said he hoped that such a position could be created. He intended to study the report and expected to be able to make a decision about bringing the matter before the Government in the near future.