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Sinn Féin calls for support for parents with intellectual disabilities

1 June, 2011 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

Speaking in support of the statement issued by Inclusion Ireland regarding the State’s removal of children from parents who have mild intellectual disabilities and for whom little support has been made available, Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Children Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin called on the HSE to change this practice immediately.

The Cavan-Monaghan TD said:

“We have noted Inclusion Ireland’s statement regarding the number of parents who face having their children removed on the basis that they, the parent or parents, have an intellectual disability. Sinn Féin have continually said that all decisions regarding children, including the care of a child, must be made according to the child’s best interest. Decisions to make a care order solely on the basis of a parent’s mild intellectual disability, and without providing family supports to allow them to care for their own children, are nothing but instruments of convenience for the HSE. It is handier for the HSE to pay another family to foster these children rather than put in place proper structured systems of support for families that need help.

“The HSE has every right and indeed an obligation to remove a child that is at risk. However, there have been many cases of children known by the HSE to be at risk not being removed and remaining in abusive situations. Now we have a situation where loving and caring parents, who may need that little bit of extra support, are having their children removed. We are calling on the HSE to immediately provide supports for these families.

“This is yet another example of why we need complete reform of the social care system and the enshrining of the rights of all children in the Constitution of this state. The state is obliged under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which the government has indicated an intention to ratify, to provide assistance to families where needed. Removing children from their parents on the grounds of a parent’s disability is a breach of both the child’s and the parent’s rights. It is absolutely imperative that the government publish a constitutional amendment bill and hold a referendum to enshrine children’s rights in the Constitution. This needs to be done without further delay”

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