Monday 25 January 2010
Government has slipped to an overall D- grade in the Children’s Rights Alliance Report Card 2010, published today (Monday 25 January), which grades Government on progress in its own commitments to children in the areas of Education, Health, Material Wellbeing and Safeguarding Childhood. New to this year’s report card are the commitments made in the Ryan Report Implementation Plan, published in July 2009. Report Card 2010 is a respected audit, verified by an external assessment panel, represented by Justice Catherine McGuinness and ICTU’s Sally Anne Kinahan at today’s formal launch in Dublin’s European Union House. Chief Executive, Jillian van Turnhout, will explain the grades given to Government, including the reasons for introducing an F-grade (Fail) in the policy areas of alcohol, primary care and financial support for families (such as the child benefit payment). Education is the only key policy area where Government does better than last year, particularly in Early Childhood Care and Education, going from an ‘E’ to a ‘B-‘, following the introduction of the free pre-school year initiative.
Jillian van Turnhout, Chief Executive, says: “Last year, we awarded Government an overall ‘D’ grade. This year, this has slipped to a ‘D-‘grade. While this, in itself, is disappointing enough, it gives us no pleasure at all to introduce a new ‘F’ grade – a FAIL. But Government has simply forced our hand. The new grade is indicative of the way in which children are the casualties of the recession. In times of crisis, it is only natural to expect children to come first. But you only need look at the 10% cut to Child Benefit to know that, as Ireland sinks further into economic crisis, none of our children are at the front of the queue, let alone on the lifeboats. Accordingly, Government has dropped from one of its best grades last year – from a ‘B-‘to an ‘F’ – for financial support for families. And had Government not reversed its proposed cuts to education, this year’s Report Card would be much bleaker.”
Report Card 2010 offers little comfort to Government, as nearly all grades either stay the same or are worse than those awarded in Report Card 2009. However, the work of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Barry Andrews TD thus far in relation to the Ryan Report is warmly welcomed by the Alliance, with the plan itself and social work provision each awarded a ‘B‘ grade: the best grade of the entire report, pointing to a good effort, with positive results for children.
Justice Catherine McGuinness, President of the Law Reform Commission, says: “Report Card 2010 is quickly becoming a vital piece of investigation that holds Government to account in relation to its own commitments to children. The rigorous and wide-ranging examination conducted by the Children’s Rights Alliance is clear for all to see and, despite a catalogue of firm and very well-thought out commitments from Government, it shows a level of failure to live up to those commitments.”
Sally Anne Kinahan, Assistant Secretary General of ICTU, says: “I am absolutely delighted to have played a role in this excellent publication. It holds Government to account and really does make a difference to children’s lives. Report Card 2010 offers Government a way forward and provides excellent recommendations that, if implemented, would put a halt to the deepening of a two-tiered society that ignores Ireland’s most vulnerable children.”
The full report and executive summary will be available on the Alliance web site on Monday 25 January at 11am.
For further information and interview bids, please contact:
Carys Thomas, Communications Director
Tel: (01) 662 9400 / 087 7702845; Fax: (01) 662 9355
Notes to Editor:
- Alliance research is based on commitments taken from key Government documents, namely: the National Social Partnership Agreement, Towards 2016; the National Children’s Strategy 2000-2010; the Programme for Government 2007-2012 and the Renewed Programme for Government; the National Action Plan for Social Inclusion 2007-2016; and the Ryan Report Implementation Plan.
- The external assessment panel comprised Tom Collins, Vice President of External Affairs and Dean of Teaching and Learning, National University of Ireland, Maynooth; John FitzGerald, Research Professor, Economic and Social Research Institute; Sheila Greene, Director of the Children’s Research Centre at Trinity College; Sally Anne Kinahan, Assistant Secretary General of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions; Danny McCoy, Director General, IBEC represented by Alan O’Kelly; Justice Catherine McGuinness, President of the Law Reform Commission; Fintan O’Toole, Columnist at The Irish Times.
- Speakers at the launch includes Chief Executive Jillian van Turnhout; Justice Catherine McGuinness, President of the Law Reform Commission; and Sally Anne Kinahan, Assistant Secretary General of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.
- A full comprehensive list of grades will be announced at the launch in European Union House.
- Press packs, with an executive summary will be available at the launch. Embargoed copies available upon request.