Belfast Telegraph

Logan hails children's rights vote

The referendum on children's rights gives Ireland the chance to be a leader on the issue worldwide, a campaigner has claimed.

Children's Ombudsman Emily Logan said she supports the wording to change the constitution but warned that its implementation is a long-term goal.

"I don't want people to think the constitution is the end," she said. "I want people to think it's the beginning. If you embed those principles in the constitution and see it as the gold standard so that every time there is a piece of legislation or policy written it will have those principles in it. It's a long-term goal, it will take a good while to get that type of change."

Ms Logan said she started calling for constitutional change from her first year in office in 2004.

"Six thousand complaints later and eight years later I'm still convinced of that if we embed some of the principles in the constitution, the likelihood over time is that we will see a new culture in Ireland in terms of the way children and families are treated," she added.

Almost 1,500 complaints were lodged with her office last year, a 22% rise on 2010.

Ms Logan said unlike previous years, there has been a significant shift in how public bodies responded to her recommendations with little resistance. Changes in personnel at the top of education, health and justice have resulted in a more co-operative response to her office.

However, Ms Logan criticised public bodies for using the recession as an easy excuse for not providing proper services, adding that many of the cases are not related to money.

Industrial relation issues and the stock answer of 'insufficient resources' often inhibited how services were provided to children and families, she revealed. But many cases reveal problems with communication.

Nearly half of all complaints to the office related to education issues, including transport, the actions of a teacher or principal and special needs resources. Concerns over health included decisions about a child in care and adequate access to HSE services.

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