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Report on Child Protection outlines clear priorities for Government to follow – Ó Laoghaire

18 November, 2016 - by Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD

Speaking upon the publication by Government this morning of Geoffrey Shannon's (Ireland's Special Rapporteur on Child Protection) which has highlighted many of the deficiencies within Child Protection structures in the state, Sinn Féin TD and spokesperson for Children and Youth Affairs Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire welcomed a number of the recommendations proposed within the report.

The Cork South-Central TD said:

“I welcome the report and its publication. I intend to read in detail, however on first inspection, it highlights the many shortfalls of child protection legislation, and how they need to be addressed in the near future.

“The Minister has a large body of work on her hands if she is to implement all of the recommendations in the coming months, but I think they should be a priority of hers in early 2017.

“As I commented yesterday, there are particular concerns around technological advances in child sex abuse due to the accessibility to the internet, with many homes owning two or more devices allowing you to do so at the touch of a button.

“Children have the world at their fingertips, yet our latest piece of legislation to safeguard for children online was enacted in 1998. Technology is unrecognisable in comparison to 20 years ago, and legislation must keep up with these advances.

“Children must be protected from exploitation and grooming in a world which is fast moving and vast.

“The report also recommended that we retain and improve how we allow the right of the voice of the child to be heard in judicial proceedings relating to them, as well as calling for the Youth Justice system to adapt and move towards a more welfare focused model of early intervention and prevention the views the detention of children as a last resort.

“On the 27th of October there was a report in the Irish Times in which family law judge Justice Bronagh O’Hanlon said the government's proposals to remove the right to legal representation for Guardian Ad Litems was contrary to the constitutional right of the child's voice to be heard in 'the best interests of the child'.

“Dr Shannon’s report reaffirms the Justices statement, and he calls for the engagement of the child to go further.

“It is also worth noting his comments and recommendation in relation to the Youth Justice Service, and how we must focus, to the best of our ability, in preventing young people from ending up in these contention institutions.

“I thank Geoffrey Shannon for his rigorous report, and the recommendations he has provided. The Minister must take these on board.” 

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