27 Mar 2008

‘Check and check again children are being protected’

NORTHERN Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, Patricia Lewsley, today expressed her deep shock at the findings of a report into the tragic deaths of Madeline and Lauren O’Neill.

The Commissioner, in extending her sympathy to the families, said the report’s stark message that Lauren’s death could have been prevented was a harsh reminder to all working to protect children of their duty. 

“Every professional involved in child protection must check and check again that they are doing their utmost to make sure children are safe,” she said. “The voice of the child must be listened to.

“While professionals and adults have their say, too often children’s voices and needs seem to be ignored.”

“It is vital that we all learn the lessons from this tragic case. Too often words on pages don’t reflect actions that need to be taken to protect children and their families – and this must not be allowed to happen any more.

Ms Lewsley said the report highlights the urgent need for action.

“There almost 40 recommendations to improve child protection, which must to be put into practice immediately. There can be no excuses about resources or training or policies. We know from this report, and from the Review of Mental Health and Learning Disability what needs to be done. Now is the time to do it.”

The Commissioner welcomed the commitment of Health Minister, Michael McGimpsey, to ‘leave no stone un-turned in order to be clear as to what happened in this case and to make sure it never happens again.’ 

“I will be seeking an urgent meeting with Minister McGimpsey and I will hold him to that commitment.”

ENDS

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