Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Children Charlie McConalogue has raised serious concerns about accountability for the State’s child and family services as a result of the so-called reforms of the HSE announced yesterday.
Deputy McConalogue said: “Yesterday’s announcement on HSE restructuring reveals yet another u-turn from Fine Gael and Labour, this time on child protection services. In the Programme for Government Fine Gael and Labour promised that they would remove child welfare and protection from the HSE by 2013. As recently as last month, the Children’s Minister Frances Fitzgerald reiterated plans to establish a new agency for child protection and family services.
“However under the plans announced yesterday, these services will remain firmly within the grip of the HSE with one of seven new Directorates in charge of this area. Where does this leave the Government’s plans to set up a Child Welfare and Protection Agency outside of the HSE structures? Is this an interim arrangement? If so, why not simply establish the new agency now, with the Minister for Children directly responsible?
“Yesterday’s announcement has raised a number of important questions about the delivery of child protection services in the State. Minister Fitzgerald must clarify how the structures announced by her colleague Minister Reilly will impact on her previous plans for a new agency? How might the outcomes for children be affected? What has happened to plans to reform the area of child protection?
“I am calling for a full statement from Minister Fitzgerald detailing how child and family services will be affected by her Government’s restructuring of the HSE. The Minister must also provide an update on plans for setting up an dedicated agency for children and families, independent of the HSE.”