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Respecting Children’ theme of Ombudsman for Children’s second Annual Report

Respecting Children is the theme of the Ombudsman for Children’s second annual report published today (Tuesday).

The report, which covers the period from April 2005 to December 2006, details the main areas of work across the complaints, research and policy, and communications and participation functions of the Ombudsman for Children’s Office (OCO).

In addition to outlining the work undertaken in the period, the Ombudsman for Children, Emily Logan, has highlighted the fact that children with disabilities are living in residential care and these services have never been independently assessed. Emily added that it was vital any system caring for vulnerable children be accountable in an open and transparent manner for the services provided.

“In my year and a half, a complaint was made to my Office by the father of a child with an intellectual disability about care services his child was accessing. While the substantive issue could be investigated by my Office, the man requested that we did not investigate the matter as he was fearful of the response that making a complaint might bring upon his child.

“There has never been any independent inspection of such services in Ireland. The Irish Social Services Inspectorate, which has responsibility for inspecting residential childcare services managed by the HSE, does not have any remit at present to inspect residential care services for children with disabilities.

“Good mechanisms of accountability and independent inspection will help ensure that policy, practice, procedures are of the highest standard. The system must be accountable to ensure these children receive the quality and standard of care that they deserve.

“I am concerned that any parent would be fearful of a system on which their child relies. Despite our history in relation to children it appears that a culture of fear may still exist in some quarters. Children with intellectual disabilities are particularly vulnerable as they may not have the capacity to communicate their views. They rely on parents, and if their parents are fearful of a system on which they rely we must make sure those parents are supported and that mechanisms of accountability are improved.

“As Ombudsman for Children I am responsible for promoting children’s rights and welfare in Ireland. I have requested that the Minister for Children expedite the independent inspection of residential disability services for children. If we are serious about respecting all of our children, this is one matter that needs urgent attention.”