I was in Moscow for the St Patrick’s Day Parade, held at Sokolniki Park in central Moscow on Saturday, 15 March. I was also a guest of the Irish Business Club at the charity Emerald Ball on Saturday evening.
I would to congratulate the Children’s Rights Alliance on their Report Card 2010, published today.
The report shines a light on how the Fianna Fail/ Green Government is meeting their commitments to children, or to be more precise, how they are failing to meet them.
In three of the four headings: health; material wellbeing; and safeguarding children, the government’s performance this year is worse than last year. Only under the heading of education has there been any kind of improvement, and even that is a very modest one.
Safeguarding Children receives a D grade this year, compared to a C grade last year, while Health is downgraded from D- last year to E this year.
Perhaps of greatest concern is the Government’s performance with regard to Material Wellbeing. Their grade has gone from a mediocre C- last year to a shockingly poor E this year. Indeed under every sub-heading of this category; financial support; access to education; access to healthcare and access to housing; Government performance has deteriorated.
In other words, not only are children worse off financially compared to a year ago, they are also finding it more difficult to get access to vital services.
Each time the government rolls out its latest wave of cutbacks – from sacking hundreds of Special Needs Assistants, to slashing Child Benefit, to ending support for homework clubs in disadvantaged areas – they claim that they do so with a heavy heart, and that they have somehow managed to ‘protect the vulnerable’.
Today’s publication gives lie to that and would actually suggest that when it comes to wielding the axe, services for children are seen as very easy targets