36 Wicklow complaints to Ombudsman for Children’s Office

Ombudsman for Children, Dr Niall Muldoon.

Myles BuchananWicklow People

THERE were 1,812 complaints to the Ombudsman for Children’s Office (OCO) in 2022, with 36 coming directly from County Wicklow.

The OCO deals with complaints about services for children and is an alternative to court for those who are not happy with responses they have received from government departments and public services.

Falling Behind; the Ombudsman for Children’s Office Annual Report for 2022 reveals that education was once again the most complained about issue (30 per cent), with bullying, expulsion or suspension, and special education resources featuring in many of the complaints.

Significantly, the work of the Office in 2022 shows that on many issues, Ireland is starting to fall behind on children’s rights. This was reflected in two major OCO reports to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and their subsequent Concluding Observations, which raised concern about the standard of living and child poverty issues, mental health services for children in Ireland, the lack of inclusive school places for all children, and the State’s failure to integrate children’s rights into legislation.

Commenting on the publication of Falling Behind, the Ombudsman for Children, Dr Niall Muldoon, said: “2022 and 2021 before it have been the busiest two years for the OCO since our Office was established. In total we received over 1,800 complaints, with 36 coming from Wicklow. It is important that children and families in Wicklow and in all parts of the country know that the Ombudsman for Children’s Office is here if you need our help or advice. If you have complained about a service and are not happy, come to us and we will help if we can.

“Our Annual Report this year is called Falling Behind because we wanted to highlight how Ireland is doing in relation to children’s rights and unfortunately, we’re not where we should be.

“The Taoiseach has said that he wants Ireland to be the best country in Europe to be a child. If this is to happen we need to finally incorporate the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into legislation – 30 years after its ratification. We also need to totally reform our Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) which we know are hugely dysfunctional and failing our most vulnerable children. Changes also need to be made to provide inclusive education for all children in Ireland.”