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Dublin: 10 °C Monday 19 February, 2018
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Children's Minister 'constantly amazed' at lack of basic services

In a recent broad-ranging interview, Frances Fitzgerald talks about schools being ‘too ashamed’ to stand up to bullying, ‘unacceptable’ waiting lists and ‘bad news’ in service inspections.

(YouTube: thejournal.ie)

“IF YOU HAVE been sexually abused, you don’t need help in nine months time or two years. You need help immediately.”

In a recent broad-ranging interview, TheJournal.ie asked Children’s Minister Frances Fitzgerald about waiting lists for therapy and counselling services for young victims of sexual abuse.

She said she was “constantly amazed” by the lack of basic services in Ireland after years of being a relatively rich country.

“So, we’re constantly trying to improve that situation and give more money to counselling,” she said. “But my department is not exempt from cutbacks either. That is the reality of borrowing that one billion a month.”

Although Ireland has been named as the 10th best country in the world to be a child, Fitzgerald noted that there are some children, particularly those in poverty, from migrant families or in the Traveller community, who face “more pressures”.

“Irish childhood has changed dramatically over the past 20, 30 years…Ireland was not always a good place to be a child. It is much better now but there is no room for complacency,” she continued.

Asked about current austerity measures and their impact on already vulnerable children, the Minister said it was something that government needs to be “extremely sensitive” about every time there is a budgetary decision that impacts on children and families.

Family law court proceedings

The Fine Gael deputy believes the opening up of family law court proceedings to reporters is a “very positive development” as it will ensure consistency and transparency.

It will also highlight to the public the nature of the “serious problems” which some children live with day-to-day. See more here:
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(YouTube: thejournal.ie)

Cyberbullying

According to Fitzgerald, some schools across Ireland are still “a bit ashamed” to admit there is bullying amongst their student bodies.

“But look they have to face up to it, they have to put policies in place,” she said. “They have to interrupt it more than anything else.”

Hear more about cyberbullying and solutions here:
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(YouTube: thejournal.ie)

Fostering inspections

Earlier this year, inspectors from HIQA said they were not assured that all children in fostering services in the Dublin north west region were safe.

The watchdog is currently compiling six more reports following examinations of child protection standards. “It is the right thing to do,” said Fitzgerald. “But it is not going to be all a good news story.”

Find out more here:

(YouTube: thejournal.ie)

Direct Provision

“One of the big problems is that we have children in Ireland whose whole experience of childhood has been in a centre.”

Learn more here:
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(YouTube: thejournal.ie)

Children First

Legislation to put the Children First guidelines on a statutory footing has been a priority of the government since it entered office more than two years ago. What has been the hold up?
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(YouTube: thejournal.ie)

More from TheJournal.ie‘s interview with Minister Frances Fitzgerald:

Minister: ‘It is a disgrace there are so few women in politics’

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