Children’s Ombudsman launches Annual Report

Complaints rise by 22% in 2011

 

Ombudsman for Children, Emily Logan, used the occasion of the publication of her annual report today (Tuesday) to acknowledge the contribution made by many individuals within the public sector to children’s lives while highlighting that the core principles of best interests and respect for the views of the child are still not being respected systemically in Ireland.

 

The publication also recognises the importance of independent oversight in bringing about a change in culture within public bodies and the need for Government policies that are based on fairness and equity, even more so at a time of fiscal difficulties.

 

The Ombudsman for Children said: “Often at annual report launches, I am compelled to report on resistance my Office has encountered in the course of our investigations. While we encountered pockets of resistance, in 2011 in particular I noticed a significant shift in how public bodies responded to my recommendations at all levels. In the course of investigations we regularly hear about insufficient and limited resources, but this year a number of public bodies were willing and open to making the systemic changes that I have recommended. These are very simply that public bodies consider the child when they are making decisions that can sometimes have a profound impact on that child’s life.

 

“Much of the positive change in public bodies is related to the significant change in personnel. While I commend the individuals in question, my concern is that inIrelandwe have an over reliance on individual leadership style rather than robust policies and practice. In order to really see a culture shift, that takes the child into consideration we must ensure that policies and practice remain consistent irrespective of who is implementing them.”

 

In keeping with previous years, 2011 saw a significant rise in the number of complaints received by the Office. In total 1,491 complaints were dealt with representing a 22% increase. Emily Logan said “The complaints to the Office continue to rise and yet again I note that industrial relations issues and the stock answer of insufficient resources often inhibited how services were provided to children and families. We continue to see more concern for the system than for the best interest of the child and family.  Advancing children’s rights is about putting in place the necessary conditions to allow children and their families to live with dignity and respect.

 

“One year after my Office completed the first systemic investigation undertaken into State compliance with Children First: National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children we note that the recommendations have been adopted and implemented. This indicates to me embryonic change in the culture within public bodies.  However the annual report also clearly demonstrates that the need for statutory, independent oversight of our public services is more important than ever. In my view, it is imperative that Government and senior policy makers ensure there is a fairness and equity in how resources are allocated even at a time of fiscal difficulty. I would encourage Government to carefully consider how it determines such policies.”

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