Fianna Fáil TD for Tipperary Jackie Cahill says he’s disappointed by the Fine Gael’s government failure to ensure a decent quality of life for children and young people in this country. He pointed to issues in the health sector, in social protection and poverty and deprivation.
Deputy Cahill said, “Over the past seven years we have seen waiting times for a range of specialities and in the areas of occupational therapy, mental health services and orthodontics, the majority of those waiting are children.
“The latest figures from the HSE show there are 6,251 children on outpatient waiting lists for more than two years – more than 1,000 have been waiting since the end of 2016. There are more than 6,500 children waiting over a year for a first assessment for occupational therapy. The waiting list for assessment for children with suspected learning difficulties is equally unacceptable.
“The situation with orthodontics is also concerning. Here in Tipperary, there are 337 children under the age of 13 waiting for treatment.
“Every week, parents come to my office to see if anything can be done to reduce the waiting time for their children’s assessment. They are extremely worried that they delay to their children’s assessment could have an impact on their outcomes. 132 are waiting up to one year, 107 are waiting up to two years, 66 are waiting up to three years and shockingly 32 children are waiting more than three years to have much needed orthodontic treatment.
“It doesn’t take a dental expert to realise that extensive delays in treatment could see a problem, which could have been easily treated if it was caught early become more problematic the longer it is left without intervention.
“This government’s record on child poverty also leaves much to be desired. Almost one in four children experience ongoing deprivation, while 105,000 children are in consistent poverty.
“My party has continued to push for a more equitable welfare system. Over the past three years we have secured increases in the rates of primary social welfare payments; increases in the back to school clothing and footwear allowance, the qualified child allowance, an increase in the income disregard and the introduction of a child maintenance disregard for the Working Family Payment over the past three Budgets.
“This government needs to do more to support children and their families. Its current policies are simply not working and I am calling on Ministers from all Departments to devise a whole of government approach to deal with the issues that are facing children in Ireland and ensure that they are given the best possible opportunities in their formative years”, concluded Deputy Cahill.