Fianna Fáil Spokesperson for Children Robert Troy has responded to Minister James Reilly’s appearance before the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.
Deputy Troy commented, “The UN has pointed out that Ireland has a litany of failures in this area that need to be addressed. Far too many children has been left behind by this Government.
“Tusla has many statutory obligations which it is currently failing to meet, either because of the lack of resources available to it or because of policy coordination and service management deficiencies in the new organisation.
“The government’s dismal record on housing provision is creating a whole cohort of children growing up without a fixed abode. In 2013 a total of 20 families were becoming homeless in Dublin alone every month – in the last few months this more than tripled to over 70 families. The experience of homelessness and constant disruption is having a profoundly damaging effect on these children’s development and raises significant child protection issues.
“Minister Reilly has drastically underfunded Tusla since its formation. While the Agency was set up with the purpose of strengthening the child protection system, we now know that it is failing in a spectacular manner to investigate child abuse claims, with just one-fifth of all reports of child abuse investigated in a timely manner last year. This is a very worrying trend which may lead to legal action in future due to the positive obligation on the state to protect children.
“There are widespread failures to protect vulnerable young people are across their service remit, with the Ombudsman also making the appalling disclosure that children with mental health issues are still being accommodated in adult psychiatric wards. Many of these children in distressful situation are simply being put on suicide watch, and not being given the care, compassion and specialist treatment they require, due to bed shortages.
“While some legislative changes have been introduced, the impact of these changes have not being felt on the ground due to the failure to commence key pieces of legislation or adequately resource what has been commenced. While Minister Reilly said he is cautious to enact some legislation – this caution leaves the both children and courts in legal limbo resulting in many children being left vulnerable.”