Belfast Telegraph

New child protection scheme hailed

A new cross-border child protection scheme for Ireland north and south has been hailed as a world first.

Northern Ireland Assembly health minister Michael McGimpsey and Irish Government minister for children Barry Andrews have launched the new online project in Newry.

The North South Child Protection Hub will allow professionals to share a wealth of expertise including court judgments, serious case reviews plus details on policies and best practice. The Hub will also tap into material from Britain and the international community and has been described as the first project of its kind in the world.

Mr McGimpsey said: "This is an exciting new development. It will ensure that child-protection staff working on both sides of the border have immediate access to the most up-to-date information and research about child protection.

"We all have a responsibility to make sure our children are protected. I believe that better informed practitioners lead to better protection of children and the Hub will certainly help towards achieving this."

Mr Andrews said at the launch: "The website differs from other resources in a number of important ways. It is targeted at child protection staff working in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. It provides comprehensive information across the range of issues for staff working with children, ie legislation, policy, research and practice information.

"It will be updated daily and has cutting edge features that will save staff precious time and effort in accessing valuable research and information."

The North South Child Protection Hub was developed under the auspices of the North South Ministerial Council (NSMC) which links the governments in Belfast and Dublin.

Officials from the department of Health and Social Services in Northern Ireland and the Republic's Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs co-chair a cross-border group to intensify co-operation on child protection.

The officials have established five sub-groups to take forward issues relating to vetting and barring, plus research and knowledge transfer, the movement of children, as well as media awareness and internet safety. The sub-groups include representatives from relevant statutory and voluntary groups north and south.

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