Child welfare

Print FriendlyPrint This Article

Children in the constitution

The Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children, Barry Andrews, told the Dail  that new wording for a constitutional amendment to protect children was being drafted in the Attorney General’s office and it was hoped that a recommendation would be brought to cabinet soon (Dail Eireann, Debates, 5th October 2010, 409).  The matter was raised by Eamon Gilmore (Lab, Dun Laoghaire) with the Taoiseach the following week (Dail Eireann, Debates, 13th October 2010, 333-8).  He accused the Taoiseach of deferring the referendum because he did not want to hold pending by-elections with it.  The Taoiseach refuted the accusation, because the government had to give time to consider the implications of the proposed wording.  A range of unintended policy and resource implications were identified.  These implications were potentially far-reaching and could give rise to very substantial costs.  The concept of continuity of care might lead to children being left in inappropriate care situations and there were also concerns about the implications for immigration policy and the manner in which the voice of the child provisions could lead to unwieldy and inappropriate arrangements for example if a child were suspended from school, legal representation might be required on both sides.  A new wording was currently being considered.  The commitment to bring forward legislation for a constitutional amendment remained and the government was determined to fulfill the commitment.  All agreed that we wanted to acknowledge the rights of children in the constitution.  ‘We have to do it in a careful and considered way.  Substantive work is going on’.  Charles Flanagan (FG, Laois Offaly) said that it seemed to him that there was no timeframe, no time lines and ‘we are merely drifting along’, but the Taoiseach insisted that it was a question of getting it right.
New director for children’s services

Separately, the Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children, Barry Andrews, told Charles Flanagan (FG, Laois Offaly) that the Health Service Executive (HSE) hoped shortly to make an announcement of the appointment of a national director responsible for children’s services and to lead organizational and cultural change for children and family services (Dail Eireann, Debates, 5th October 2010, 285).  He had raised the need for such an appointment with the HSE in June and he envisaged that the post would last for two years and would be a person with a proven track record to lead reform.  ‘Shortly’ was expected to be the next few weeks, with the appointee in place by Christmas.