New child protection plans unveiled
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.
Ms Fitzgerald said the country had been shamed by the neglect and violence meted out to children over the decades 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 body, 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," Ms Fitzgerald said.
The minister said the country needed a new start in the area of child protection with higher standards, claiming there had been a lack of action in the past.
And she again reiterated her hope that a Children's Rights referendum would be held this year.
Ms Fitzgerald was launching the consultation process with children at Scoil Chaitriona in central Dublin for the National Children's Strategy 2012 to 2017.
Some 1.4 million children in 4,500 schools across the country 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, especially in the summer," he said.
Judith-Eileen Sleator, also 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 school-goers to ensure they have the education needed to be the leaders of the future.
"The quality of what we do and the quality of the education that we provide to our under-fours will drive the PhDs and the economy in the future and that's what is really important," the minister said.
Pupils in all schools will be asked to fill out the survey next week.