Cullinane calls for zero tolerance to child poverty
Speaking in the Seanad today on the Child and Family Agency Bill 2013, Sinn Fein Senator, David Cullinane said:
“I welcome this Bill and the establishment of the Child and Family Agency but I also believe we have a long way to go in terms of child protection.
“The passage of the Children’s Referendum was a positive first step but unless it is followed up with robust legislation and adequate resources it will have little or no impact.
“The current economic climate is not the most ideal time for the appointment of a new Minister and the establishment of a Department. However, it is in such challenging times that children need robust protection and enhanced representation.
“In that context, the allocation of a budget of €439 million to the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs in 2013 is modest to say the least.
“The fact of the matter is that this government pumped billions of euros of public money into Irish Banks while only allocating less than half a billion euro this year to the Department responsible for the children of Ireland.
“Indeed one of the smallest allocations for the Department of Children and Youth Affairs is a €2.5 million State contribution for the area-based response to child poverty.
“And this was in the wake of the children’s referendum.
“While a total of €2.5 million is going to a handful of areas to address child poverty, in budget 2013 a full-year cut of €142 million was made to child benefit.
“This was a reduction in child benefit, which is the most direct and beneficial payment to families and children in poverty or in danger of poverty.
“Such cuts undermine future plans for the Department of Children and the Child and Family Agency.
“If we genuinely want to protect children then we must do better. We need to have a zero tolerance policy to child poverty.”