Originally Ombudsmen for Children’s Offices were set up to independently investigate complaints against public organisations. This was before the Convention on the Rights of the Child was agreed in 1989. Since then, as well as investigating complaints, the Ombudsmen for Children’s Offices around the world have worked hard to promote the rights of children as listed in the UN Convention.
In Ireland as far back as 1996 many committed people who were interested in children's rights put pressure on the Government to have an Irish Ombudsman for Children. The Ombudsman for Children Act, which sets out the role and powers of this Office, was agreed by the Dail and the Seanad in 2002.
The word 'Ombudsman'
The word Ombudsman comes from Scandinavia. The ‘Ombuds’ means defender of rights and the ‘man’ part refers to mankind. So an Ombudsman can be either a man or a woman. They are a person who protects the rights of individuals or a group in relation to the powers and action of government and other public organisations.
The 1st Ombudsman for Children
Norway was the first country to appoint an Ombudsman to specifically look after the rights of children and young people. This happened in 1981. Today many countries have an Ombudsman for Children. Sometimes they are called Children’s Commissioners instead of Ombudsmen.
Ireland's 1st Ombudsman for Children
Emily Logan became Ireland’s first Ombudsman for Children in March 2004. Emily Logan’s first six year term as Ombudsman for Children expired in December 2009. Emily was subsequently reappointed to this post for a further six years following resolutions passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas. The Ombudsman for Children is a presidential appointment and reports directly to the Oireachtas.