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Call for child protection measures

25-10-2007

UTV News

Common measures to protect children from sex crimes, abuse and bullying should be introduced across Ireland and Britain, Gerry Kelly said today.

The call came after the Sinn Fein Junior Minister met Children`s Commissioner Patricia Lewsley in Belfast to discuss her hopes for the programme for government.

Mr Kelly said: "We are very much for making sure that child protection is at the core of all of this and we want to take an all-island approach to it and also an east west and European approach.

"The issue is too important to be looked at alone and we have already raised this with the different regions and countries and we continue to do so."

A recent Assembly debate raised concern that paedophiles were not subject to the same level of monitoring in the Republic of Ireland, leaving children in Northern Ireland vulnerable.

Almost 30 representatives of young people today met with Mr Kelly.
"The UN Convention of Human Rights is the basis on which to move forward," he added.

"This was our first meeting, it was very helpful because it was very focused and we were agreed to continue so that the sector can help us and we can help them in terms of their needs."

He said he wanted to set up a group involving a number of ministers to address children`s issues.

There is also a ten-year strategy and action plan to address the matter.

Ms Lewsley said: "When the draft programme for government and draft budget are published we at the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People want to see the 10-year-strategy for children and young people at the heart of these documents.

"In that context I want to see the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child underpinning all the work of the strategy so that we have children at the centre of decision-making.

"And, as was clear from a report I published earlier this year we are lagging behind other parts of the UK on how much we spend on children.

"I want to see, in the budget, a commitment to increasing funding. If the Children and Young People`s funding package ends, as I`ve been led to believe, any funds diverted to departments must be ring fenced to make sure services are continued and enhanced."

 

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