11 May 2012

Fitzgerald Publishes Law to Strengthen Child Protection

Local Fine Gael T.D. and Minister for Children & Youth Affiars, Frances Fitzgerald, this week published the Heads of the Children First Bill. This Bill will be sent to the Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children for consultation with key stakeholders to take place before the Bill is finalised. The purpose of this Bill is to put Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children on a statutory basis which is a key commitment in the Programme for Government.

“This week I published the Heads of the Children First Bill; a key commitment of the Programme for Government and a recommendation of the Ryan Report. This law will put Children First Guidelines on a statutory footing, giving added force to child protection. This legislation is part of a suite of measures being introduced to help protect children,” said Frances Fitzgerald.

“I have worked closely with a number of voluntary and sporting organisations in Lucan, Clondalkin, Ratchoole, Newcastle and Palmerstown who are already following Children First Guidelines and would like to commend them for the fantastic work they do with children throughout our area,” continued Fitzgerald.

“The main message here is that child protection concerns need to be acted on and not ignored. This new law will require certain professionals and volunteers working with children to report child protection concerns to a Designated Officer who will in turn refer concerns to the HSE. In the past two decades alone, we’ve had 16 major statutory reports on child protection. We have seen horrors beyond imagining and we have reached a point where there is national consensus that we have to change. Almost everybody now agrees we have to do things better,” said Fitzgerald.

The Heads of Bill for Children First are part of a suite of legislation to protect children being developed in accordance with the Programme for Government. This includes the publication today by the Minister for Justice of the Criminal Justice (Withholding of Information) Bill and the forthcoming National Vetting Bureau Bill.

“I have been working closely with my colleague the Minister for Justice and Equality on these matters and we will continue to work together at Ministerial and official level over the coming months to ensure that the legislative framework that develops is well-integrated, complementary and very importantly, clear for those who will be required to comply with it,” concluded Fitzgerald.