Law Society of Ireland criticises suggested abolition of Department of Children and Youth Affairs; calls for continued prioritisation of children’s rights

The Law Society of Ireland has criticised suggestions that the Department of Children and Youth Affairs may be abolished as part of the formation of the new government.

The President of the Law Society Michele O’Boyle responded to media reports that the abolition of the Department is being considered, saying, “The continued enhancement of children’s rights must be a priority for government as a means of eliminating systemic inequalities, which still exist in Ireland today.”

“Downgrading or abolishing the Department would be a deeply retrograde step. Years of progress for children’s rights, including transforming access to early education and enhancing protection through intervention, will be put at risk if the Department is abandoned.”

Ms O’Boyle says the global pandemic has highlighted a number of social injustices faced by children across Ireland. “Covid-19 has laid bare the requirement for on-going, independent and authoritative representation for children. It has pulled back the curtain on troubling inequalities such as lack of access to educational supports and medical care, isolation-related difficulties and issues for those parenting alone.”

“The creation of a full Cabinet Minister with responsibility for Children in 2011, sent a powerful signal that the rights of children would no longer be given secondary status in Ireland. The abolition of that Department now would send a very different signal,” Ms O’Boyle concluded.