Prioritising children

 

Sir, – Fintan O’Toole once again shows the wisdom and balance that many of us yearn for from our politicians and our next government (“New government must stop throwing good money after bad”, Opinion & Analysis, January 28th).

Your columnist rightly points out that year-by-year budgeting does not allow for the savings to be delivered from long-term investment in preventative measures to tackle complex social issues.

Research commissioned by Barnardos last year found that Ireland is spending an additional €6.95 billion addressing preventable social problems such as obesity, drug and alcohol abuse, crime and violence against children. This is not an accident of history but the result of clear policy choices. Choices in how we prioritise investing our public finances.

Successive governments and the political system are failing to adequately address the complex issues facing the almost one-in-five children in Ireland with poor economic, social and educational outcomes. To address this Barnardos is calling on the next government to provide sustainable investment in the Family Support programme, to reform the judicial, health and social care services surrounding families, and to introduce truly free education for all children. Research shows that between a fifth and a quarter of our children in Ireland are vulnerable and have poor economic, social and educational outcomes.

In elections vulnerable children do not have a voice unless someone speaks up for them. And to date those seeking our votes are not listening.

Through targeted investment and reform, the next government can deliver real and sustainable change and ensure that all children in Ireland have the same life chances. Failing to do so is neither fiscally prudent or just. – Yours, etc,

SUZANNE CONNOLLY,

Chief Executive,

Barnardos,

Christchurch Square,

Dublin 8.