Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Children Robert Troy has said the delayed hearing on the Child and Family Agency Bill at the Oireachtas Sub-Committee on Children should be used in order to address significant gaps in legislation and expand the scope of protections for vulnerable children.
Deputy Troy commented: “The Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald has asked to postpone this Thursday’s hearing on the legislation establishing the Child and Family Agency for up to 10 days in order for her to bring forward technical amendments which she claims will improve the legislation. I have agreed with the Minister to facilitate this. However, further delay is regrettable in a week when we have seen serious gaps in our child protection system exposed. I am urging her to use the additional time available now to ensure she addresses the concerns and deficiencies identified in the Bill during the Dáil debate at Second Stage but also those issues highlighted by the various sectoral groups.
“A number of issues have arisen since the legislation was first published including the provision of after care, the inter agency co-operation, prevention & early intervention and the continued absence of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service from the remit of the new Agency.
“Fianna Fáil have sought to be constructive in this process to date and have brought forward amendments to the legislation and facilitated the Minister’s request .I am urging the Minister to implement in full the recommendations of the expert group she set-up to advise her on the establishment of the agency.
“The establishment of the Child and Family Agency is one of the most important measures this Government will bring forward so it is vital it is right from the outset. However, the commitment to increased services and protections for children must be met with adequate resources. Extra funding and the delivery on key promises will be the true test of this month’s budget for Minister Fitzgerald. The Minister has promised to deliver on a whole host of programmes, including additional social workers and inspectors, and additional resources are essential to delivering this.”