Thursday, 14 January 2016
Order of Business
I note that the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs is this morning facing questions before a United Nations committee on Ireland’s children's rights record. Senator Bacik has been talking about the Labour Party’s child care initiative, which I look forward to reading. The issues being raised today in Geneva, however, point to a failure by this Government to implement many of the promises it made five years ago. Issues to be raised in Geneva include non-Christian children accessing State-funded schools; inadequate resources for Garda vetting procedures for adults working with children; lack of a rights-based framework for children with disabilities; the continued failure of local authorities to provide adequate housing for Traveller children and their families; the failure to recognise Travellers as an ethnic minority and the continued holding of asylum-seeking children in direct provision centres, sometimes for their entire lives. There is also the issue that the Ombudsman cannot investigate issues relating to direct provision. Child poverty rates and the trauma experienced by children living in emergency accommodation etc. will also be raised. The score card is not very strong for this Government. We have debated this issue regularly because there is a certain amount of expertise on it in this House, which deepens the debate. Although there are only a few more days of this Seanad left, if there is time in the programme I would welcome a debate on these issues. The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs might be willing to come into the House when he comes back from Geneva to discuss what was raised there. That debate could be one of great importance.