Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Children and Youth Affairs

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child: Discussion

Photo of Alan FarrellAlan Farrell (Dublin Fingal, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I thank Dr. Muldoon. There is a lot to consider in his statement. I thank him for going through it. As Chair, I believe it is appropriate to acknowledge his acknowledgment of our report.

Although the ink on it is still drying, the consensus and the collaborative work on which members engaged were worthwhile. The complementary report of the Joint Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government benefited the entire process that both committees went through at the same time, unbeknownst to each other. Given that we came to the same conclusions, it was right and proper that Dr. Muldoon acknowledged there is emerging consensus. As my colleagues and members of the Opposition have always said, no Member of the Oireachtas has a monopoly on good ideas when it comes to housing and we have to work together, which is reflected in my opening remarks in the report.

I acknowledge a group of students present in the Public Gallery today on International Children's Day, namely, Andrea Radu, Scoil Mhuire, Buncrana, County Donegal; Anna Crowley, Scoil Phobail, County Cork; Courtney O'Connor, the King's Hospital School;. Daniel Fitzgerald Bell, Belvedere College; and Patrick McGrath, Coláiste an Chroí Naofa, County Cork. They are very welcome. Another group will attend a later part of the meeting.

Dr. Muldoon highlighted mental health housing and online safety as unfinished work for which the Oireachtas must come to solutions in short order. Mental health, in particular, is an area of deep concern to all of us, in light of the regularity with which it is raised in both Dáil and Seanad Éireann. It is difficult to envisage a programme in any Department failing, year on year, to spend its own money but that seems to be a recurring issue in the recruitment of specialist individuals to support children and adults. It is an ongoing issue. Will Dr. Muldoon comment on it?

We have discussed the housing issue and there will now be a period of reflection at the Department while it covers it.

On online safety, the committee has previously done significant work on making recommendations to the Government in respect of an online safety commissioner. Irrespective of what it will be called, we know what the role will be. I am pleased that, while the beginnings of the process and the realisation took a year, it finally struck the Department. My view, which is probably shared by members and on which I would like to hear Dr. Muldoon's view, is that because of the co-ordination of the role and its importance, it cannot simply be within one Department and there has to be co-ordination. Dr. Muldoon's office plays an important role in that oversight and he might comment in that regard.


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