'Failure' on child protection test
The Government should hang its head in shame after failing a test on its own child protection policies, a child protection watchdog says.
The Children's Rights Alliance (CRA) gave the Fianna Fail and Green coalition a "D minus" grade in its annual report on improving children's welfare.
The watchdog said the Government's performance was "barely acceptable" over its failure to act on child education, health, material wellbeing and child safety.
"This poor performance is deeply disappointing, especially given that the Government is being graded on its own policy commitments," the report stated.
"A D minus grade means that too many children in Ireland are being denied the fundamental building blocks to live healthy and productive lives.
"It means that thousands of children will fail to reach their unique potential; it means that Government failed to put children first in the economic crisis, and too often during 2009 it ignored their rights."
The Government did worse this year in three of the four key areas, only improving its grade in education, from a 'D' last year to a 'C plus'.
It was awarded its first ever 'F' grade in the yearly report for failing to implement policies on improving primary care, mental health and childhood obesity, with a reduction in the price of alcohol flagged as a key concern.
The decision to cut child benefit by 10% in the Budget was a major factor in an 'E' grade for the coalition's commitment to children's material wellbeing.
"In Ireland, we believe that we value children, but the startling evidence shows otherwise," the report states.