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National missing children’s hotline must implemented – Cullinane

12 October, 2011

Speaking in the Seanad today Sinn Féin Senator David Cullinane called for the implementation of the EU missing children’s hotline in Ireland on an all island basis.

The Minister gave a commitment in the Seanad today to have the hotline up and running in 2012. Senator Cullinane said this commitment must be backed up with funding and met at the earliest opportunity.

Speaking in the Seanad Senator Cullinane said:

“Sinn Fein is please to co-sponsor this motion calling for the implementation of the missing children’s hotline.

“I personally call for this not only as a political representative but as a parent who is concerned at the states track record on child protection.

“The EU missing children’s hotline is now operational in 16 member states. The hotline is a specialised service which works very closely with the police in each member state, and the operators of the line would be in a position to offer advice and support to their callers.

“Ireland has a legal obligation to “make every effort” to ensure that this hotline was up and running as soon as possible. However, there is very little evidence of effort on the Government’s part.

“The ISPCC has been campaigning for the setup of this hotline for years, but their resources are overstretched as it is and they cannot afford to run the hotline without help.

“So it is apparent that we have the number, we have an agency with vast experience in the field ready and willing to operate the hotline, but we don’t yet have any commitment on funding from the Government.

“The cross border movement of sex offenders continues to pose a grave risk to the most vulnerable in our society. In theory, it is possible for a registered sex offender from the six counties or overseas to enter the 26 counties unimpeded and “lose” themselves, and vice versa.

“Child protection therefore is an issue which demands co-operation on an all Ireland basis, and also throughout Europe. We welcome the set up of the North-South Child Protection Hub but believe that the ethos behind this innovation needs to be pushed further.

“It would be entirely possible for a child to be taken in Dublin and brought to Larne ferry terminal and be removed from the country within three hours.

“The expedient setting up of the missing children’s hotline is a priority. It should not be delayed any further. Furthermore, the phoneline should be operated on an all island basis. This is the most practical way forward, and the one most likely to prevent the movement of a missing child across the island.” ENDS

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