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Child welfare issues cannot be ignored on polling day

THE issue of child protection and welfare has been glaringly absent throughout the 2011 General Election campaign. The ISPCC insists that parties and candidates be clear about their strategy for government with particular regard to children.

As the Irish people go the polls this week to elect a new government, the ISPCC has published definitive and clear commitments received from all parties regarding their plans for child protection and welfare. Each party leader and children's spokesperson was pressed by the ISPCC to cast their party's vote accordingly; to respond with a plain Yes or No to six key points.

Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, Labour, Sinn Fein and the Green Party have all responded categorically that, if elected to government, within their first year of office they will action the following proposed fundamental developments in child protection:

  • Hold a referendum to place children's rights into the Constitution.
  • Place "Children First" -- the national guidelines for the protection and welfare of children -- on a statutory footing.
  • Develop a time-defined implementation plan for the provision of 24-hour social work services for children and families in Ireland.
  • Provide additional human resources to the Garda Vetting Unit.
  • Support, through funding, the provision of a missing children's helpline.
  • Ensure that all children in the care of the State have an allocated social worker.

The ISPCC is urging voters to engage with candidates on these issues to ensure that children's rights and protection do not become lost in the barrage of economic and financial debate.

Ashley Balbirnie

Chief executive, ISPCC,

29 Lower Baggot Street, Dublin 2

Irish Independent