Press Release

Children in Ireland Report Presented to UNICEF

Minister for Children, Ms. Mary Hanafin T.D., today, 28 November, 2001, announced the publication ofIreland´s National Report on the Follow-up to the World Summit for Children 1990 – 1999. The Minister presented Ms Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of UNICEF with a copy of the Report.

The Minister explained that that the Report supports a review of progress on children´s issues worldwide, since the last World Summit for Children in 1990. The outcome of that review was to have been presented by the United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan, at a United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Children in New York from 19 to 21 September, 2001. Following the atrocities in New York, the General Assembly of the United Nations decided to postpone the Special Session until May 2002. Minister Hanafin was due to head the Irish Delegation in New York.

“We have all been greatly shocked by the events of September 11. The postponement of the Special Session on Children was one of the many consequences of that terrible day,” said the Minister.

The main purpose of the Special Session was to agree a new ten year plan to renew Member States´ efforts and commitment to further implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child around the world.

“The recently published National Children’s Strategy is Ireland´s plan for children and it is a major initiative to progress the implementation of the Convention here. The Government´s commitment to the full implementation of the Strategy will impact positively on the lives of all children over the next ten years,” said the Minister.

The Minister said that Ireland’s National Report sets out in considerable detail, the breadth of policies, investment and new initiatives taken for children over the decade of the nineties, not just in Ireland, but abroad through Ireland Aid, the Government´s official aid programme. Among the developments outlined in the report are:

  • the £290m allocation to increase the supply of quality childcare services and the allocation of £74m to implement the White Paper on Early Childhood Education;
  • the increase in State expenditure in education from £1.4 billion to £3.3 billion over the last ten years and the£194m plan to tackle educational disadvantage;
  • the 152% increase on the previous decade, in non-capital expenditure on statutory health services;
  • the halving of the level of ´consistent poverty´ among children from 24% in 1994 to 12% in 1998, and the Government commitment to trebling the September 1999 rate of Child Benefit by 2003;
  • the investment of more than £100m in child protection and welfare services, and more effective arrangements to investigate child abuse and to strengthen the legislative framework for children coming into care;
  • the multi-annual commitment given to UNICEF under Ireland Aid, which will see funding more than treble between 2000 and 2003.

The main focus in the Report, however, is on the Government´s National Children´s Strategy which is identified as the framework for further action by the Government up to 2010. The Minister said that the Strategy has been well received both at home and internationally, as it provides an excellent and widely supported framework for developing future policies for children and delivering quality supports and services to them and their families. The key aspects of the Strategy and the new structures which have been put in place to implement it are set out in the Report.