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Roscommon case demands immediate action on rights and resources

23 January, 2009 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

Sinn Féin Dáil leader and spokesperson on Children Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has written to Mary O'Rourke, TD, Chairperson of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Constitutional Amendment on Children to urge that the Committee address as a matter of urgency the implications of the Roscommon child abuse case.

Deputy Ó Caoláin, a member of the Committee, said:

"The appalling abuse and neglect suffered by the children in the Roscommon case highlights the urgent need to strengthen children's rights and to greatly improve resources to protect vulnerable children.

"I have today written to the Chairperson of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Constitutional Amendment on Children, Deputy Mary O'Rourke, urging that this matter be placed on the agenda of the Committee which is scheduled to meet next Wednesday, 28 January.

"As the representative of Sinn Féin on this All-Party Committee I have repeatedly urged that the promised referendum on children's rights should proceed and that it be a comprehensive measure. It remains my earnest wish that Government and Opposition parties will move forward on an agreed approach and wording and at the earliest date possible. That said, constitutional change alone will not guarantee the safety of all children and in all circumstances. We, as a society, have a shared and collective responsibility to exercise vigilance and a willingness to speak up if we have cause for concern within our communities.

"We also need urgent measures to enhance the social services for vulnerable children. The issues highlighted by the Roscommon case are not new. Last May an RTÉ Prime Time Investigates programme revealed the horrific extent of the child protection crisis in this State. Children are being abused and neglected or left at risk of abuse and neglect even though their files are in the hands of the HSE and they are known to be in grave danger. That situation cannot be allowed to continue." ENDS

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