We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Alamy Stock Photo
Annual Report

Children's Ombudsman says there's climate of 'uncertainty and instability' for youth in Ireland

The Ombudsman for Children’s Office received a total of 1,790 complaints about children’s public services last year.

THE OMBUDSMAN FOR Children’s Office has said there is a climate of “uncertainty and instability” for many children in Ireland at the moment. 

Dr Niall Muldoon, head of the OCO, said children’s issues are “fighting for Government’s attention at a time where there is a housing crisis, a cost-of-living crisis, an international protection crisis and where our public services are under increasing pressure”. 

He said these issues are having an “unquantifiable impact” on children, too, but they are “not necessarily seen as children’s issues”. 

Dr Muldoon’s comments come as the OCO released its annual report for 2023 today, which shows that it received a total of 1,790 complaints about children’s public services last year.

The OCO is a human rights institution that promotes the rights and welfare of children and young people under the age of 18 in Ireland. It investigates complaints about the services provided to children by public organisations. 

Two in five complaints (40%) received by the OCO last year related to education, with complaints being made about access to school places, bullying, school transport, the State Exams Commission as well as access to complaints procedures in schools. 

A total of 23% of complaints related to health, including complaints about services within hospitals, CAMHS, Children’s Disability Network teams and HSE funded services providing support for children. 

A further 23% of complaints related to Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, with complaints being made about children living in residential care and secure care, interagency work between services, complaint processes and access to internations and supports provided by the agency. 

The OCO also received complaints from children and families living in Direct Provision and from people seeking passport services. 

While not in the OCO’s remit, 4% of complaints related to Early Childhood Education and Care. The OCO said this is significant as there is no robust oversight of the complaints. 

The majority of complaints to the OCO (82%) were made by parents, while 3% were made by children. 

Dr Muldoon said that children are “still waiting far too long for vital, life-changing spinal surgeries and our Children’s Mental Health Services (CAMHS) are not uniformly of a high standard across the board”. 

“Homelessness and family homelessness in particular is at an all-time high, with the number of children without a home surpassing the 4,000 mark at the start of the year,” he said. 

“And yet Ireland is one of the richest countries in the world. For many children thankfully, Ireland is indeed a great place to grow up in and they are living happy and fulfilled lives. But this is not the case for all,” Dr Muldoon added. 

He said that “uncertainty is not good for any of us, but for children it can be extremely challenging, and often damaging”.

“These are all issues we have highlighted in investigations and reports last year, and will continue to raise with Government and policy makers this year, as we are on the precipice of a General Election,” he said. 

Readers like you are keeping these stories free for everyone...
A mix of advertising and supporting contributions helps keep paywalls away from valuable information like this article. Over 5,000 readers like you have already stepped up and support us with a monthly payment or a once-off donation.

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel