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Home > Thirty-First Amendment of the Constitution (Children) Bill 2012: second stage:(Resumed) (Continued).

[Oireachtas] Thirty-First Amendment of the Constitution (Children) Bill 2012: second stage:(Resumed) (Continued). (25 Sep 2012)

URL: http://oireachtasdebates.oireachtas.ie/Debates%20A...


(Speaker Continuing) [Deputy Catherine Murphy:] Our international reputation was further damaged after the publication of the Ryan report, which made international headlines in the UK, Australia, the Middle East, the United States and in other European countries. What the report had found was described as "appalling reading", a shocking scale of sexual and physical abuse in the Irish education systems. "Ireland's shameful tragedy" was the headline in the New York Times. We will rebuild our reputation if we do not repeat these mistakes and are seen to learn from and respond to them but it is not only about our national reputation, which can be repaired. What cannot be repaired are the children who were damaged. We must anticipate problems and ensure they are not repeated. To do that we cannot merely pass a referendum. If it is to mean something further we will need a world-class child protection system. We cannot use the excuse that the state of the economy will not allow this. We need to make the best use of resources available to us but we also need a vision and a blueprint for the kind of service to which we aspire. We must begin to build and resource that system.

 

Too often, one institution of the State does not know what another arm of the State is doing. That must stop. Children are often not seen in the delivery of vital services. The Oireachtas Library & Information Service Bills digest draws attention to the family support model, describing the strong legislative framework and leadership that is especially needed to underpin services at levels 3 and 4. These levels are where one really comes across children at risk, where there may be violence and all kinds of abuse. I will offer one example from County Kildare, from the south of the county which is not my constituency. County Kildare has a population of 210,000 which makes it the fourth most populated county in the country. I say this to underline that it is a fairly large centre of population. The HSE built a refuge for victims of domestic violence but there is no money to open it although it is there and available. What is there at present is an information and support service which is really vital. I have referred people to it on several occasions and have been really impressed by the service provided, albeit very limited. When the centre opens the service will need a child protection worker to work in the refuge but it appears this is an afterthought for the HSE although there will be more children accommodated in that refuge, if it ever opens, than there will be women. It must be seen as an essential part of the service. There is also a suggestion that the centre will be run by volunteers. That would not meet the HIQA standards this State demands of such a service. The refuge might be opened, therefore, without meeting the very basic minimum standards expected of it. At present there are people staying in violent situations because there is no place for them to go. That is the kind of service in which one will see children at what are described as levels 3 and 4. We must put this situation right.

 

We also need to have detox beds for adults with a drug addiction. We often see such adults and can see their children being used and pushed around in situations where drug dealing may be going on, very openly. Those children very often end up in care. If we are serious about keeping children with their families we must deal with the origin of the problem. Having sufficient remedial action for people with a drug addiction is vital.

Increasingly, our focus is exclusively on the cost of everything, and what can be cut further. A greater reliance is being placed on any person or organisation that will assume responsibility for those with problems. In the absence of a blueprint we basically hope for the best. It is interesting to note that some of the most radical notions such as, for example, a welfare state, was conceived by the social reformer, William Beveridge, in 1942, in the middle years of one of the most tragic world events, the Second World War. He was capable of thinking beyond the present and constructing something worth aspiring to although his idea obviously played out differently depending on the country.

 

Let us aspire to something really world class for children. We need to look beyond what now seems certain and must aim for something bigger in the future. The kind of society we aspire to, how we share limited resources in a more equal way, how we can get more with less, how we protect our children, are all central issues for a good society. This referendum is a beginning but it must be followed by the means to deliver the aspiration it contains. I support the referendum but it must be seen as a beginning and I believe this is something the Minister also accepts……

 

[For the full debate, click on the link above

 

 
Dáil Éireann Debate
Tuesday, 25 September 2012

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