Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Arts, Heritage, Tourism & Sport, Sandra McLellan TD, has today said, “The children of this state waited a long time for the Children’s Bill. Many governments have come in and out of office and left the children of Ireland behind.”
Speaking during the Dáil debate on the Children’s First Bill, Deputy McLellan Said:
“This bill is based on recommendations and guidelines dating back to 1990. The children have waited 24 years for this bill to be introduced. Unfortunately the bill in its current from falls short on a lot of other aspects.
“There are no sanctions in place for those who fail to comply with the requirements set out in the bill. The original heads of bill two years ago had a penalty of up to five years in prison for failing to comply with this legislation.
“Without any clear sanctions for failure to comply with the bill it is hard to see how this legislation will be enforced or policed. At best we will have inconsistency; at worst we will see yet more toothless legislation gathering dust.
“A key aspect of child protection is providing resources to up skill and support those working with children. This bill sadly fails to provide any such resources. This may well create a dangerous situation whereby the government feel they have done their best but meanwhile out there in the big bad world the bill has little or no effect simply because organisations cannot provide resources to train and inform their members.
“The bill would be far more robust if resources were made available to meet its demands.
“There is no point is mandating organisations to report child abuse and child neglect and these reports mounting on someone’s desk and never actually receiving the attention they deserve.
“There is also genuine concern expressed by groups that the list of mandated professionals does not cover national organisations working with children and families as their main purpose. Many large organisations are not explicitly mandated to comply with protocols outlined in this bill.
“Minister, it is essential that all organisations providing services to children take a consistent approach to ensure best practise is adhered to when responding to child abuse and child neglect.”