Saturday 16 February 2019

Taoiseach to bring in new child protection laws 'in weeks' after Louise O'Keeffe apology

Louise O'Keeffe
Louise O'Keeffe
Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, T.D.pictured at the launch of Child and Family Agency at Dublin Castle

Ralph Riegel and John Downing

The Government is bringing in new laws on mandatory reporting of abuse by people responsible for children's welfare, like teachers, youth leaders and social workers.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny vowed to enact new child protection legislation within weeks as part of the apology to abuse victim Louise O'Keeffe (inset).

Mr Kenny personally apologised to the Cork mother of two after the European Court of Human Rights ruled in her favour in a landmark legal judgment last week. But Ms O'Keeffe stressed that while she appreciated the Taoiseach's apology, a far better gesture of state regret would be enacting legislation to ensure Ireland prevents such abuse from ever happening again.

Mr Kenny vowed his Government will now deliver on both apology and promise.

"She is right . . . I have spoken to Children's Minister (Frances Fitzgerald) about this and the Children First legislation I would expect will be crafted and presented within a matter of weeks," he said.

"We will certainly be very happy to respond to Louise O'Keeffe's call here. This is a priority piece of legislation for Government. I will see to it that that happens."

The legislation will mean mandated people responsible for children's welfare will be breaking the law if they do not report instances of abuse.

Up to now, this has merely been a recommendation and did not have full force of law.

An official at Ms Fitzgerald's office said the 'Children First Bill 2014' is due before Cabinet within the next four weeks.

"This is a long-standing policy which has been in being for almost 10 years. It was recently reviewed and will be put on a statutory footing with this legislation. It will give the most comprehensive legal protection ever to children," the official said.

The Taoiseach had offered to meet Ms O'Keeffe but said he didn't have time during his busy Cork schedule.

Ms O'Keeffe described the ECHR decision as "a great day for the children of Ireland".

Irish Independent

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