Fine Gael Cork South Central TD and Chairman of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children, Jerry Buttimer, has said the widespread consultations that will take place with stakeholders and groups working with children on a daily basis will be a key element in preparing the Children First Bill.
“The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald, TD, has asked the Committee on Health and Children to play an active role in preparing the Children First Bill.  Given the importance of the proposed legislation, the Committee has agreed to concentrate on the Bill for five weeks.
“The Children First Bill is about aligning the law with what is right, it is about bringing an end to any remaining attitudes that may choose to ignore child abuse and neglect.  It will no longer be an option to have child protection as a priority; compliance with Children First will be mandatory, not voluntary.
“For the Children First legislation to be effective we must have an open dialogue with those groups who will be working with it on a daily basis.  The Committee will work to give these groups an opportunity to contribute to the formulation of this legislation.
“As part of this process we will hold a series of meetings with key stakeholders in the areas of child protection.  The Committee proposes meeting advocacy and representative groups, government departments and voluntary organisations working in sports and youth activities.  We will also meet with key lead personnel in child protection, child law and children and family services.  Giving these groups the opportunity to contribute will enable their practical day-to-day experience to inform the legislative process.
“It is in the interest of all in society, all children and parents that the Children First legislation is practical and effective. It must deliver a reformed child protection regime.  The Minister’s engaging approach prior to the publication of the legislation will help to achieve this outcome.”