Executive accused over child rights

The Executive has been accused of lagging behind the rest of the UK in delivering children’s rights in Northern Ireland.

Children’s commissioner Patricia Lewsley-Mooney claimed it was clear from a new report by Queen’s University, Belfast, that there were significant barriers to the development and implementation of policies and strategies, and too often children’s rights and best interests had been sidelined.

She said: “Over the past four years there has been a real lack of momentum in delivering on children’s rights while other parts of the United Kingdom have been more effectively concentrating on children’s rights.”

Ms Lewsley-Mooney said that her job was to engage with children, scrutinise and advise and, where necessary, challenge government.

She added: “When the Assembly created my post they outlined a clear set of duties for me, including advising government when I believed they were failing our children.

“In doing this I have been advising our Executive on how they can bring about positive change for children – before they start school, when they are in school, when they need health and social services support, and when families and their children struggle to climb out of poverty.

“If there is a clear commitment in the programme for government to children, and to making sure that departments work together to co-ordinate their efforts in delivering for children, then the vision of political leadership changing the course of children’s lives for the better can become a reality.”

Since the May election she had met all the new Executive ministers and shared her concerns with them about how effectively they are delivering for children, she said.

Ms Lewsley-Mooney added: “However, concerted action must be taken to overcome the barriers to effective delivery including training on children’s rights for government officials, seeing where budgets are spent on children, a more ‘joined up’ approach to planning and delivering services for children, better information and analysis, and meaningful participation of children in developing and implementing strategies and policies.

“While we have many well-intentioned strategies, we need to see strategic visions translated into concrete, specific and measurable outcomes for children.”