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Children's group claims ministers have to do better

A GROUP advocating children's rights has awarded the Government an overall C-grade for its handling of policy in the area.

However, the Children's Rights Alliance said the Government is failing children in areas including health and equality.

The group has drawn up a school report card-style analysis of the performance of the administration for the past six years.

This year's C-grade is no improvement on 12 months ago.

The most recent report graded the performance on issues and policies affecting children against the stated commitments in the Programme for Government 2011-2016.

Tanya Ward, the group's chief executive, said the programme was ambitious for children.

"Minister Frances Fitzgerald, along with her Cabinet colleagues, have helped advance the cause of children's rights," said Ms Ward.


"There is no doubt that a full cabinet position for children and young people is having a positive impact.

"We have singled out education for praise due to advancements in literacy, school buildings and progress on patronage and pluralism in primary schools."

The group awards B-grades in the areas of children's constitutional rights, education and protection from abuse.

But it said that on health, adequate standard of living and equality, the Government is failing children.

Child poverty remains high, with 9.3pc living in consistent poverty and 18.8pc at risk.

Catherine McGuinness, the group's chair, pointed out that infant mortality rates for Traveller children were 3.6 times that of the rest of the population, and called for "specific commitments".

The alliance acknowledged headway with the newly established Child and Family Agency, ending the detention of children at St Patrick's institution and the construction of a new facility for young offenders.


It also said the policy of direct provision for asylum-seekers and their children is detrimental and should cease.

"Overall, we see that systemic change has begun, but that those categories of children who have no voice within the system continue to be marginalised," the group said.