Labour raises concerns over snip plans on Children’s Ombudsman
I would like to add my voice to concerns being raised by Emily Logan, Ombudsman for Children, regarding the Bord Snip recommendations to subsume her Office, along with others, into office of the Ombudsman.
Quite what the point of such a merger would be is not at all clear. According to the McCarthy Report, the move would save at best a couple of hundred thousand Euro. This is less than a drop in the ocean in terms of the €5.3b cuts that are outlined in the document.
The proposal would effectively abolish the distinct and independent nature of the Ombudsman for Children’s Office, the only agency expressly charged by law to listen to children and to advocate on their behalf.
McCarthy also seems to be suggesting that investigations by the new Ombudsman’s office would be carried out by staff at lower grades, which would almost certainly compromise its capacity to adequately deliver the service.
It is astounding that this proposal has emerged just weeks after the publication of the Ryan Report. While that report was universally greeted with shock and dismay, we are now being asked to reduce the level of protection and support we will be offering children.
Earlier this month, the Ombudsman for Children’s Office published its annual report highlighting a 10 per cent year-on-year increase in demand for the services of the agency. To merge the Ombudsman for Children’s Office with bodies that have no express powers or functions relating to children would be entirely wrong and mis-guided.
The Minister for Finance has referred to pressure from sectional interests in the context of the proposed cuts and savings. Children, however, are not a sectional interest.