Wednesday, 3 February 2021
Reappointment of the Ombudsman for Children: Motion
That Dáil Éireann recommends Dr. Niall Muldoon for re-appointment by the President to be the Ombudsman for Children.
I am asking Dáil Éireann to pass a motion that Dr. Niall Muldoon be reappointed by the President as Ombudsman for Children. Seanad Éireann approved such a resolution last week. On 15 December 2020, the Government supported my intention to arrange for the moving of the requisite resolutions for consideration by both Houses recommending Dr. Muldoon's reappointment for a second term of six years, with effect from 17 February 2021. Dr. Muldoon has served as Ombudsman for Children since his original appointment on 17 February 2015.
The reappointment is proposed in accordance with section 4 of the Ombudsman for Children Act 2002. The legislation provides that the reappointment shall be made by the President upon resolutions passed by Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann.
The Ombudsman for Children may be reappointed only once. The Office of the Ombudsman for Children was established to promote and safeguard the rights and welfare of children. The ombudsman is independent of Government and is accountable to the Oireachtas. My Department has general governance oversight responsibilities in respect of the office, primarily with regard to financial, staffing and other matters. The office will receive Exchequer funding of €2.955 million in 2021. The key functions of the office include promoting and safeguarding the rights and welfare of children, examining and investigating complaints about services provided to children, providing advice regarding children's rights and conducting research on relevant issues.
I acknowledge and record my appreciation for the work that Dr. Muldoon has done over the past six years. He has worked effectively to ensure that children within the direct provision system could access the services of his office following 17 years during which this was not the case. He was also a key protagonist in the development and setting up of the Barnahus Onehouse Galway pilot which offers a one-stop shop for children affected by sexual abuse. He has shown a dedication to raising the voices of seldom heard children in Ireland and bringing their issues to the Oireachtas through reports such as, Take My Hand, which focuses on children's inpatient adolescent psychiatric units, No Place Like Home, which focuses on homeless children living in family hubs, and Direct Division, which focuses on children in the direct provision system.
Investigations by the office, such as Molly's case and Jack's case, both of which focused on care for disabled children, have brought about important systemic change in areas such as health, education and child welfare. Over the period of the Covid crisis, Dr. Muldoon has kept a vigilant watch on the work of the Government to ensure that the rights of children are upheld when important decisions are being made, whether that relates to schools, examinations, child welfare or disadvantaged groups.
I recommend the adoption of this resolution by the House in support of Dr. Muldoon's reappointment as Ombudsman for Children by the President. I hope Members will agree that Dr. Muldoon has very capably performed these functions during his first term of office.