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Padraig O'Morain: Our child protection system to be revamped... about time

If you have nothing else to cheer about today, you can feel happy that our child protection system may be about to be fixed.

The Minister for Children, Frances Fitzgerald, announced yesterday that child protection is to be removed from the HSE and given to a new agency.

This newspaper has been calling for this move for a long time as report after report has shown that the HSE is simply not doing its job when it comes to protecting our children.

Concerns sent to the HSE by worried neighbours and relatives gather dust.

People who mistreat their children seem to run rings around the social work services. Social workers themselves are disillusioned. Foster parents are unsupported.

In short, it's a mess. It's been a mess since before the HSE was established but it has most certainly got worse since then.

This is not to say that the people who run the HSE are monsters. But the primary focus of the HSE is the health service -- and the health service is a monster.


And it is on its running of the health service and not its care of children that the HSE is judged. Children never had a chance in that set up.

Frances Fitzgerald has announced that a new executive agency will take over child protection and welfare services from the HSE to bring an end to "procrastination, deception and evasion." Strong, strong words.

I have one plea to make: please do not appoint some safe bureaucrat from the higher reaches of the HSE to run the new agency.

Our Ombudsman for Children, Emily Logan, has been a triumph because she has no truck with bureaucracy. She is a paediatric nurse by profession and has absolutely no fear of the suits.

Find another Emily Logan -- male or female -- and you will have done a good day's work that will benefit children for many years to come.