20 Mar 2006

GOVERNMENT plans to improve how children are protected have been today welcomed by the Acting Children’s Commissioner, Barney McNeany

Mr McNeany, said Minister for Health, Shaun Woodward's announcement on a number of measures to tighten child protection arrangements were a positive step forward.

“Today’s proposals demand that all organisations work together to co-ordinate how they improve child protection; improve how organisations and individuals operate for children; and, how voluntary and community groups can be recognised and accredited to provide better safeguards.”

"No system can ever provide perfect protection for children and young people but the plans announced today will go a long way to provide stronger protection for children and young people," said Mr McNeany.

"The team at the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People will be examining the details of the Ministerial statement, and will be looking to see that the appropriate legislation is in place to make sure the new systems, including the proposed Safeguarding Board, are in place as soon as possible."

Mr McNeany said that in June last year NICCY's review of vetting in Northern Ireland produced a series of recommendations to improve checking adults that wanted to work with children and young people.

The Secretary of State, Mr Peter Hain MP responded by pledging co-operation and announcing the appointment of a Children’s Minister to co-ordinate department’s work on issues affecting children and young people.

"Today’s announcement shows Government is providing strong leadership on this issue but he emphasised that protecting children was everyone’s business. We look forward to seeing the Government’s timetable to meet our recommendations," he said.

"The announcement covers some important areas NICCY wanted dealt with. NICCY will continue to monitor Government action to improve safeguarding children, and welcomed the work of organisations such as NSPCC in making sure that important issues are kept to the fore.

The Government is due to respond to NICCY's recommendations at the end of June this year.

The Acting Commissioner said NICCY would monitor Government action to improve safeguarding children, and welcomed the work of organisations such as NSPCC in making sure that important issues are kept to the fore

Notes for Editors

  • A copy of today's press release from the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety can be found here
  • Press release on earlier ministerial announcement can be found here 
  • Press release on our vetting review in June ’05 can be found here
  • You can find our more information on the work of the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People on the web site