Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Children Robert Troy TD has criticised the Children’s Minister for refusing to ring-fence money for Childline. The 24 hour support service is being faced with the prospect of cutting its hours because of funding issues. Deputy Troy raised the issue during Topical Issues in the Dáil this afternoon.
He commented, “Childline is the only 24 hour free of charge listening service available to children in this country. It provides essential supports for hundreds of thousands of children and teenagers every year who feel they have no-one else to turn to. The fact that the night-time service could be put at risk because of a funding shortfall is unthinkable and should be avoided at all costs.
“One in ten calls to the phoneline are made by some of the most vulnerable and distressed children, whose only chance to talk to someone is at night, when their parents are in bed or they are on their own. The threat to cut the night time service will see 45,000 calls go unanswered next year. That’s 45,000 calls from children who feel frightened, isolated and upset, and who in some cases are suffering from abuse. Essentially, the ISPCC is providing a vital service that the state is failing to take responsibility for.
“We still have no out of hour’s social work service, and in many cases Childline is the go-to outlet for children who are being abused. The ISPCC has revealed that in the ten months to October this year, it has referred 74 cases to the Gardaí and a further 38 cases to the Child and Family Agency. This is work that state agencies should be carrying out, yet by refusing to allocate sufficient funding to Childline he is dismissing the important child protection role that the ISPCC plays, and once again demonstrating how out of touch with reality he is”.