20 Apr 2004

Earlier today the same evidence was given to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Children.
 
Barney McNeaney, Chief Officer with the Commissioner’s office told the committee that proposed powers of the Children's Commissioner for England as outlined in the Children Bill currently going through Parliament needed strengthening.
 
Mr. McNeaney said the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People was clear that a watchdog for children and young people needs strong powers that can properly promote the interests of children and young people and act with real strength in carrying out investigations.

"The office of the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People is concerned that under the proposals for the Children Bill the English Commissioner for Children and Young People, will not be able to act independently.”

The representatives of the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People also expressed concern over the powers an English Commissioner will have over other parts of the United Kingdom.

"Together with the Welsh Commissioner, Peter Clarke and Kathleen Marshall, the Scottish Commissioner, we are concerned that under the proposed powers the English Commissioner can be instructed to carry out a formal investigation in relation to a Northern Ireland child without any form of consultation with the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

Mr McNeaney, who was acting on behalf of the Commissioner, was accompanied by the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People’s Head of Communication and Participation, Marlene Kinghan.

For further information contact:

Communications Officer on:  028 90 316397
NICCY 
Millennium House 
17-25 Great Victoria Street
Belfast