HSE to be stripped of childcare role
New agency will end 'deception', says minister
A NEW national agency dedicated to child protection will strip away the procrastination, deception and evasion that has allowed abusers to go unpunished, Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald said yesterday.
Ms Fitzgerald said the country had been shamed by the neglect and violence meted out to children over the decades.
Speaking as she launched a consultation with youngsters on a five-year national children's strategy, the minister said work will begin immediately on setting up the new agency, which will remove child protection and welfare services from the Health Service Executive.
"A body dedicated to child protection, a body dedicated to the safety of our children and a body dedicated to stripping away the procrastination, the deception and evasion that has allowed abusers go unpunished," is how Ms Fitzgerald described the new body.
The minister said the country needed a new start in the area of child protection with higher standards.
Despite the minister's desire to move quickly on the new agency, officials in her department said it was too early to know how long the transfer would actually take.
"Preliminary work has commenced on a range of matters relating to the establishment of the new agency . . . including the legal framework necessary to underpin the agency," said a spokesman. The minister said: "We'll begin work on this immediately and a timeframe will be determined over the next few months."
She also reiterated her hope that a children's rights referendum would be held this year.
Ms Fitzgerald was speaking at the launch of the National Children's Strategy 2012-2017 at Scoil Chaitriona National School on Dublin's Baggot Street.
Around 1.4 million children in 4,500 schools will detail what they think is the best thing about being a child in Ireland and what changes they would make if they had the chance.
Hasshim Gopee (12) said he would like to change school times to make it easier to fit in more play time.
"You have to get up in the morning and then school finishes late and you want to go home and enjoy the sun," he said.
Judith-Eileen Sleator (12) from Loreto Senior Primary School in Crumlin, said she would like to see better hygiene in hospitals.
The minister said the Government must look at the needs of the youngest schoolgoers to ensure they have the education to be the leaders of the future.