Sinn Féin’s Trevor Ó Clochartaigh calls on the government to step up to the plate when it comes to child protection.
Senator Ó Clochartaigh said:
“The recent judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in favour of Louise O’Keeffe has significant implications for the State.
“In response to a question from my Party leader Gerry Adams on Tuesday, the Taoiseach acknowledged that the O’Keeffe’s case clearly indicates the state’s failure to protect children and he went on to say the ‘protection of children is absolutely a priority for the Government’.
“However on the very day the Taoiseach is due to launch the Child and Family Agency we learn that at least 200 social work posts are vacant despite significant increases in the number of reports of children at risk of abuse or neglect.
“This, in spite of the fact that some 40,000 referrals were made to child protection teams in each of the last two years – up nearly a quarter on 2011 figures – placing strain on services already under pressure.
“The Ryan report, published five years ago, recommended the recruitment of 270 additional social workers, however, there are now fewer social workers employed than when the report was issued.
“This is a classic example of double speak if ever there was one. The Taoiseach can talk the talk but when it comes to real on the ground action he and his government are as usual found wanting.
“Words mean nothing to vulnerable children. Rather what they need are properly resourced child protection services and a government and state that genuinely care about their welfare.”