A voice for children at Cabinet

Ireland's Department of Children and Youth Affairs should be supported and enabled to mature and achieve its full potential 

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.

Originally published in the Irish Times

Dr Ellen Crushell

Dean of the Faculty of Paediatrics

Dr Ellen Crushell is Dean of the Faculty of Paediatrics. She is a Consultant Paediatrician with special interest in Inherited Metabolic Disorders at Temple Street Children’s University Hospital and Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin. A UCC graduate, she completed her Paediatric SpR training in General Paediatrics in 2003 prior to undertaking further specialist training in Inherited Metabolic Disorders at the National Centre for Inherited Metabolic Disorders (NCIMD) and at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), Toronto. She has an interest in teaching and is an Associate Clinical Professor at UCD. Her clinical and research interests include infantile liver failure syndromes, homocystinuria and lysosomal storage disorders.