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Ombudsman for Children should have a role in new Independent Policing Authority – Logan

She also called for an independent audit of 700 cases where children were removed from their families by gardaí.

Ombudsman for Children Emily Logan
Ombudsman for Children Emily Logan
Image: Sam Boal

THE OIREACHTAS SHOULD consider giving the next Ombudsman for Children a role in new Independent Policing Authority, according to the outgoing Ombudsman, Emily Logan.

Speaking at the launch of the 2013 annual report, she said she wanted child protection featured within the authority.

“I don’t want them to forget about child protection,” she said, adding that she was concerned that the independent authority would focus on “hard-hitting” criminal activity when it came to child safety, while she said the issue of neglect needs more attention.

Not accountable

Speaking about the powers of the gardaí in terms of child protection, Logan said that the gardaí are “not accountable” when it comes to the emergency removal of children from families.

Logan said there have been 700 cases where children have been removed from their families under Section 12 of the 1991 Child Care Act.

This gives power to the individual gardaí to remove a child from their family in the context of an emergency situation where there is an immediate risk to the child’s safety and welfare.

This was the section in which the gardaí removed two Roma children from their families last year. 

Power

She said it was a very “unusual power” but a very significant power, adding that she did not think that it had been accounted for.

“It is not audited and not reported,” she said, adding that there is no mention of it in any of the Garda Síochana annual reports and despite the power being exercised over 700 times a year.

“I am not saying it is being misused, but it is important to know in terms of inspiring confidence, so it should be audited,” she said.

She said the power should be retained but that it should be reported on, stating that the data on the number of cases held in the Pulse system was inadequate and didn’t address concerns of ethnic profiling.

Ethnic profiling

“There has been talk of ethnic profiling, but we don’t know that that is the case,” she said.

Logan, who was given special powers by the then Minister for Justice Alan Shatter to investigate gardaí as well as the HSE and their conduct in the Roma cases, said that she was reiterating her call for an independent audit of the 700 cases.

“It should not be done internally by the gardaí,” she added.

She clarified that as she was commissioned on a personal capacity to carry out the report into the removal of two Roma children from there families , the gardaí have no obligation to come back to her in regards to her reconsiderations, but said that it is her understanding that there has been an inter-departmental group set up to review it.

Read: Children’s Ombudsman given powers to investigate gardaí as well as HSE>

Read: ‘A wake up call’: Where to now after the Logan Report?

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