Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Children Charlie McConalogue has welcomed the publication of the report from the independent review group on the deaths of children in State care.
“This is an extremely sad day for Ireland, and particularly for the families and friends of these young people. My thoughts and my deepest sympathies are with them at this distressing time,” said Deputy McConalogue.
“I want to pay tribute to my colleague Barry Andrews for being the first Minister to shine a light on this dark corner of Irish life. He took an important step by commissioning this report in 2010. I am relieved that it has now finally been published, six months after the current Minister first received it.
“This is the first report of its kind in the history of the State. It is a harrowing report to read, but absolutely necessary as we improve the care of vulnerable children in our country. These problems did not begin when Barry Andrews commissioned this independent review, and they will not end now that the report has been published. Right now in cities and towns across Ireland, there are vulnerable young people in homes and on the streets at risk in the same way as the children in this report.
“As legislators we must do everything in our power to help these children and the Government must implement the recommendations in this report as a matter of urgency. They will have Fianna Fáil’s full support in doing this. Government alone cannot fully resolve the issue of protecting vulnerable children. That approach would run the risk of another similar report ten years hence. Society has a whole, and every arm of the State, has a responsibility towards these children,” said Deputy McConalogue.
As per the recommendations in the report, Fianna Fáil is calling for:
– The reinstatement of the exemption on the civil service recruitment embargo for all social workers in the area of child and family service. Note: The number of children in the care of the State with an assigned social worker has slipped from 94% in January 2011 to 92% in February 2012.
– The establishment of a Child Death Review Unit (CDRU), totally independent of the Department, the HSE and the new Child and Family Support Agency.
– Changes in the in camera rule of reporting child protection cases in the courts so that information gathered in child care proceedings can be the subject of review and reporting
– Real reform of the child protection system, ensuring consistency of practise and service as part of the new Child and Family Support Agency
– The provision of aftercare services to all children in the care of the State after they turn 18.