Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has given a qualified welcome to the commitment by the Taoiseach today to examine the possibility of accelerating the full implementation of the Children’s First Act before the current deadline.
Teachta Adams raised the issue with the Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD today in the Dáil following the publication on Saturday in the Irish Times of a letter from Barnardo’s; the Children’s Rights Alliance; and the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty.
Teachta Adams said:
“In their letter to the Irish Times Barnardo’s; the Children’s Rights Alliance; and the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty expressed their concern at the delays by the government in commencing the Children’s First Act.
This Act was enacted this time last November. Among its provisions it provides for mandatory reporting by key professionals; mandated assisting; comprehensive risk assessment and preparation of Child Safeguarding Statements by services for children; and the establishment of a Children First Interdepartmental Implementation Group on a statutory basis.
The children’s rights groups are concerned that only three sections of the Children’s First have commenced. In a recent Dáil response the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone admitted that the full commencement of the Act will not occur until the end of February 2018. Among the provisions still to be commenced are those relating to mandated reporting of child abuse and the preparation of Child Safeguarding Statements by organisations providing relevant services to children.
The three groups who are in the front line of protecting children and defending their rights say that as a result of the government’s inaction children do not have sufficient legal protection when it comes to their safety.
They also say that in their work with children they see every day the impact of this legislative gap. The priority of government must be to commit to the safety and security of children. The Children First Act needs to be implemented in full and quickly.”
In his response the Taoiseach said that he would look at the possibility of accelerating the timetable for the full implementation of the Act.
I have now written to Minister Zappone asking for a full breakdown on those outstanding parts of the Act that have yet to be implemented; her existing timeframe for this and whether she believes it is possible to accelerate this process.