16 Jan 2008

THE independent review into the Omagh fire tragedy of November last year has been welcomed by the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, Patricia Lewsley.

Ms Lewsley said the review, to be led by barrister Henry Toner, was an important opportunity to examine ways to improve how children are protected from harm.

“The circumstances that led to the deaths of an entire family must be examined to help everyone improve how they work to protect children,” said the Commissioner.

“While no-one wants to cause further upset or distress to the families, nor the wider Omagh community, there are clearly lessons to be learned and gaps identified and filled.”

Ms Lewsley said the review must produce a set of recommendations that can be adopted throughout Northern Ireland to enhance how risks to children and young people are managed.

“The terms of reference of the review are a framework to shape its work and I hope will produce a set of recommendations that will support the work of professionals on the ground.

“The implementation of the recommendations must be fully resourced across all the organizations concerned.”

Ms Lewsley said she would be seeking an early meeting with Mr. Toner.

“However, while the review is ongoing I urge all professionals and agencies throughout Northern Ireland to examine their practices to make sure they are providing the best possible protection to children and young people.

“No-one can ever eliminate risk entirely, but through this review and the professional application of best practice we can all reduce that risk.”

Notes to Editors:

  • The Department of Health, Personal Social Services and Public Safety’s press release, including the review’s terms of reference can be found here

MEDIA ENQUIRIES For more information please contact Andrew McGall, Communication Officer at NICCY on 028 9031 1616 or   communications@niccy.org