Fine Gael Meath East TD and member of the Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children, Regina Doherty, has today (Tuesday) criticised Fianna Fáil’s response to the publication of the Children First Bill, adding that the Party is wrong when it claims that no sanctions are in place for those who fail to report children at risk.
“It has become entirely predicable for Fianna Fáil to give a negative kneejerk reaction to any legislation published by the Government, regardless of its merit. The Children First Bill will, for the first time, place the Children First Guidelines on a statutory footing.
“This was recommended in the Ryan Report in 2009, while Fianna Fáil were in government, but the Party did nothing to implement it. Fianna Fáil has a poor record on child protection; an area which was neglected during its 14 consecutive years in power, despite a litany of reports detailing shocking instances of abuse.
“Fianna Fáil is wrong when it claims that there are no sanctions for those who fail to report child abuse concerns. The Children First Bill is just one element of a suite of legislation which includes serious sanctions for those who withhold information about a child at risk.
“The Children First Bill should be viewed in tandem with the Withholding of Information Act and the National Vetting Bureau Bill. Under these three pieces of legislation individuals can be sanctioned or prosecuted if they are found to have put a child at risk by not reporting suspected abuse.
“The Children First Implementation structures, which will be put on a statutory footing through this Bill, will pave the way for further sanctions that include the withdrawal of funding from state-funded organisations which are not in compliance with Children First.
“Fianna Fáil failed to act while it was in government to strengthen protections for children at risk. It didn’t treat child protection as a priority, leading to fragmented services and an inconsistent approach.
“The series of measures put in place by this Government, under the stewardship of the Minister for Children, Frances Fitzgerald TD, is transforming the way we deliver child protection services in this country and will, I believe, make Ireland a safer place for children.”