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Press Release: A Better Normal: Dáil debate on Ombudsman for Children’s Office initiative

A Better Normal: Dáil debate on Ombudsman for Children’s Office initiative

The Ombudsman for Children, Dr Niall Muldoon is calling for the establishment of a time-limited, cross departmental Joint Oireachtas Committee to bring together Government departments, those working in the children’s sector and other experts to make a swift and transformative impact on the goal of eradicating child poverty and eliminating child homelessness.

A Better Normal will be debated in the Dáil today (Thursday) as all parties focus on the impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on children – particularly the most vulnerable, for whom there will be no return to normal.

Speaking ahead of the Dáil debate, the Ombudsman for Children, Dr Niall Muldoon said:

“The Covid-19 pandemic has shown us that the impossible is possible. Government departments and state agencies have adapted in ways that we never could have imagined. I am calling for the same solutions focused attitude to be applied to the long-standing issues of child poverty and homelessness.

“We are looking for all parties to commit to A) the Eradication of child poverty and B) the Elimination of child homelessness. In order to achieve this a number of key changes must be made:

  1. We must provide families with an Adequate Standard of Living: Adjusting social welfare by €5 or €10 depending on economic boom or bust does not serve children and families well. A better, data driven approach, must be found to provide children and families with the financial support they need. Utilising MESL* data is one option that should be explored.
  2. Target services: Those at risk of slipping below the poverty line must be identified, helped first and supported often through Free School Dinners, develop the Area Based Childhood (ABC) Programme and provide supports for everyday expenses.
  3. Right to Housing: Ireland must enshrine in our Constitution the Right to Housing for everyone in Ireland.
  4. Eliminate family homelessness within five years should be the first step in fulfilling commitment to eradicate homelessness by 2030.


“The Government has signed up to the EU Child Guarantee which requires the State to submit a national plan with specific targets focusing on breaking cycles of poverty – so taking action in this area is not optional.”

“As we plan for life post-Covid, it is vital that amidst the clamour of noise from some of the most powerful industries, we do not forget the children who have suffered most during this time.”

“Over the course of the summer I have communicated with all party leaders seeking their support for A Better Normal. I look forward to today’s debate and to hearing from all parties about how they feel this initiative can be moved forward and put into action. I feel strongly that urgency and commitment are needed to eradicate child poverty and eliminate child homelessness – two longstanding issues that impact on every aspect of a young person’s life. Positive change on these issues within the next five years will transform childhood in Ireland forever – a prize worth striving for.”


Note to Editors:

The Minimum Essential Standard of Living (MESL) is a standard of living which no one should be expected to live below. This information is collated by the Vincentian Partnership for Social Justice. For more information on MESL visit (Accessed 24 August 2021).

The Ombudsman for Children’s Office is an independent statutory body that promotes the rights and welfare of children under the age of 18 living in Ireland.

The Ombudsman for Children’s Office investigates complaints made by, or on behalf of, children in relation to public bodies, as well as organisations providing services on behalf of the State.