Childline sees 20 per cent drop in funding

ISPCC says it may no longer be able to provide 24-hour service

ISPCC chief executive Ashley Balbirnie said Childline has reached ‘breaking point’. Photograph: Jon Challicom/ChildLine/PA Wire

The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC) has reported that Childline has witnessed a 20 per cent drop in funding since the beginning of 2014.

The charity warned it may no longer be in a position to provide a 24 hour service to children around the country.

Speaking at the ISPCC annual general meeting, Caroline Kingston, Communications Co-ordinator, said the support service for children continues to suffer the financial repercussions of the CRC and Rehab revelations.

“Last year we were reaching a point where we thought we were going to break even for the first time in nearly six years,” said Ms Kingston. “When the controversies arose about CRC and Rehab we noticed a dramatic drop in income so that by year end we were down by 12 per cent.”


Childline costs just over €3.8 million per year to operate and receives 95 per cent of its funding from public donations. The service recently received €181,000 from the National Office for Suicide Prevention to develop its online based services.

However, Ms Kingston fears a decline in public support may lead to cutbacks in staff numbers.

“We’re hoping the public will come to our aid,” she added. “Parents need to recognise that Childline is there to support all of our children, not just children who are abused or who have mental health problem, but the difficulties children face in their everyday life.”

The ISPCC chief executive Ashley Balbirnie said Childline has reached “breaking point” and a cutback in services would leave a “huge vacuum” for Irish children.

“They will quite simply have nowhere to turn and these children who are brave enough to call Childline should not be casualties of a controversy they played no part in,” she said.

Monica Row, a volunteer and fundraiser for Childline, said she has witnessed first-hand the anger people feel following recent controversies in the charity sector. “I have been shouted at, argued with and - most often - ignored,” said Ms Row.

She said she is worried that after years of building up the confidence and trust of Irish children, Childline will now have to turn its backs on the most vulnerable in Irish society. “We’ve told our kids for the last 15 years that we’re here for you 24/7” she said. “Am I to say now put that hurt on hold, ring us when the service is actually open?”

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak is an Irish Times reporter and cohost of the In the News podcast