Thomas Pringle TD

Pringle calls for more authority for Ombudsman for Children

Independent TD for Donegal, Thomas Pringle, called on the Government to give the Ombudsman for Children, Donegal man Dr Niall Muldoon, and his team the power they need to ensure their recommendations are implemented.

“The Government should be legally held to account by the ombudsman,” Deputy Pringle said.

Deputy Pringle addressed the issue in the Dáil on Wednesday, as he supported the reappointment of Dr Muldoon to another term as ombudsman.

Deputy Pringle said: “Dr Muldoon has been ombudsman while we have been experiencing a catastrophic failure in housing policy, which has made thousands of children homeless. We have had countless reports and reviews on the issue and the only problem that I have with the ombudsman’s office is that it doesn’t have the teeth to take action against this Government.

“It must be a very tough job to receive complaints and heartbreaking stories, to report to the Government but to have your recommendations ignored.

“Ireland signed up to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child back in 1992 but these rights need to be put on a legislative footing. That would be the massive systemic change that it is required to actually make a difference – it is what the children around Ireland need,” the deputy said.

Deputy Pringle also pointed to the ongoing delays in accessing assessment of needs and appropriate supports for children with disabilities and their families.

Deputy Pringle said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed greater failings of the State. The closure of schools and schools for children with additional needs during the pandemic meant that many children with additional needs regressed without their structure, routine, or attention. This has led to children with additional needs having been expelled from the schools designed specifically with their needs in mind.

“When the schools reopened during our Covid lull, high numbers of children were expelled. Children with additional needs have a constitutional right to education and that has been taken away by the State’s failure to provide appropriate supports to schools, teachers, assistants and families.”

He concluded: “Re-appoint Dr Muldoon and give him and his team the power to ensure their recommendations are implemented. For the sake of the wains.”