From top: Minister for Children Katherine Zappone; Yesterday’s Irish Times
Yesterday, it was reported that “all children” going through childcare proceedings will be appointed guardians under the new Child Care Amendment Bill.
On Twitter, Child Law, Disability and Human Rights lawyer Gareth Noble writes:
‘Sadly the headline (above) is inaccurate. Lots of children will NOT have a voice. The new proposed Bill dilutes the rights and participation of children.
The new ‘service’ may serve some interests better ie., Tusla and abusive/neglectful parents but it won’t be vulnerable children.
A Guardian continues to be addressed as a ‘witness’ who may be called to give evidence by a party to the proceedings.
Can you imagine Tusla wanting to call a Guardian who wishes to make recommendations that Tusla would rather not implement? It is absolutely unconstitutional.
The court Appointed Guardian ad litem is said to be independent but the discharge of their functions is strictly limited to Ministerial control and applications that they will be forced into making to the Minister for Children.
At the moment Guardians have a dual function: views of the child and offer an assessment as to best interests. The new Bill appears to dilute the importance of the second of these functions.
What about children who can’t express their wishes or choose not to. Are they forgotten?
If we see children as rightsholders (as we voted for in a referendum) how is it that social workers and parents will have automatic right to legal representation and full participatory rights but that the voice of the child will will have to apply to the Minister for the same.
With the very greatest respect, EVERY single thing Minister Katherine Zappone says in this piece is factually and legally wrong.
I’m trying to work out if she knows this or simply being fed these inaccuracies to regurgitate.
Either way, it’s such a setback for vulnerable children.’
HIQA has criticised Tusla for not notifying gardaí in a timely manner of suspected crimes of neglect, physical and sexual abuse in the Dublin South West/Kildare/West Wicklow area.
The independent watchdog said the Tusla area concerned failed seriously to comply with all four standards assessed during last April’s inspection.
It said that child protection and welfare referrals were not consistently screened within 24 hours, a standard set out in the Child and Family Agency’s own business processes.