By Dr Ellen Crushell, Dean of the Faculty of Paediatrics
For too long children in Ireland had no voice. In 2011 the establishment of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) with its own Minister was a sure step towards acknowledging the role and importance of children and young people in our society. It ensures their representation and consideration in all important decisions at Cabinet.
Ireland is privileged to have the youngest population in the EU with 25 per cent aged under 18 years. This year we celebrate the 30th anniversary of Ireland signing the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, possibly Ireland’s strongest statement of commitment to children. There is an irony that this may coincide with the potential loss of the DCYA.
Children’s lives have been upended by the current crisis, many families are now rudderless, with loss of support services for those with special needs, loss of education, play, sport, routines and other supports. The effects on children’s mental health and wellbeing will be significant and they must be considered and represented in all responses. The DCYA is just nine years old. It should be supported and enabled to mature and achieve its full potential for the benefit of Ireland’s young people.