Dáil Éireann - Volume 630 - 31 January, 2007
Written Answers. - Human Rights Issues.
Mr. McCormack Mr. McCormack
Mr. McCormack asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will impose all international regulations relating to the welfare of a child and its rights; and when he will put them in practice. [2201/07]
Mr. B. Lenihan Mr. B. Lenihan
Mr. B. Lenihan: I take it the question refers to the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Convention is the most widely ratified of the six core United Nations human rights treaties and the global support for it is a compelling demonstration of the international commitment of governments to the promotion and protection of children’s rights.
Ireland ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child without reservation in September 1992 and submitted its Second report in July 2005 to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. On 20th September, 2006 Ireland appeared before the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in Geneva to outline the progress that has been achieved in relation to the increased and enhanced development of policies and services for children since Ireland’s last appearance before the Committee in 1998.
The UN Committee welcomed Ireland’s comprehensive Second report. The Committee com mented on the fruitful and open dialogue with the Irish State delegation and welcomed the many new developments since Ireland’s last report was examined in 1998, including a Minister for Children who sits at the Cabinet table, the establishment of the Office of the Minister for Children, the publication of the National Children’s Strategy, and the establishment of the Office of the Ombudsman for Children, to name but a few.
Ireland’s implementation on each and every aspect of children’s rights under the Convention is outlined in the report. Implementation takes the form of legislative, policy and administrative provisions across the range of policy areas.
The Child Care Act, 1991 sets out the statutory framework within which child welfare and protection services for children aged 0-18 years are provided in Ireland. The emphasis of the Act is on supporting children and families in their own communities having regard to the principle that it is generally in the best interests of the child to be brought up in their own family. The dominant focus in child care services since the early 1990s has been on the protection and care of children who are at risk. This policy has shifted in recent times to also include a preventive approach to child welfare involving support to families and individual children, the aim being to avoid the need for further more serious interventions later on. The 1991 Act places statutory responsibility for the provision of child welfare and protection and family support services on the (Health Service Executive) HSE. Regulations and standards have been introduced on the placement of children in residential care, in foster care and with relatives. Inspections are carried out on the basis of those regulations by the Social Services Inspectorate.
The United Nations committee hearings provide a useful opportunity for us to measure our progress and take stock of what has been achieved and identify priorities for the next stage of our development. As I acknowledged to the committee in Geneva, although there have been huge advances made in the position of children during the last ten years in Ireland, there are areas which need further development and investment. The United Nations committee highlighted areas where further progress could be made, such as advancing the rights of the child in the Constitution.
The Taoiseach announced on Friday 3rd November, 2006 that a referendum on children’s rights should take place and asked me as Minister for Children to initiate a process of consultation and discussion with the other Dáil parties and with all relevant interest groups. I have engaged in a series of discussions with political party representatives, the Ombudsman for Children, non-governmental organisations (represented by the Children’s Rights Alliance) and faith-based groups. Based on these discussions I will be bring ing forward proposals for consideration by Cabinet.
The Government will use the UN Committee’s concluding observations to help decide our priorities as we work to improve the lives of children in Ireland going forward. Ireland’s third and fourth consolidated Report is due to be submitted by 27th April, 2009. My Office continues to highlight those areas to which the UN Committee has drawn attention and has asked Departments to note and examine the concluding observations in the context of business and strategic planning processes.
Dáil Éireann 630 Written Answers. Human Rights Issues.