Children Must be Visible in the Programme for Government

20 February 2012 News

Children’s Commissioner disappointed at Executive document

CHILDREN’S Commissioner, Patricia Lewsley-Mooney, said today that the Northern Ireland’s Executive’s Programme for Government lacks a clear and coherent vision for children.

The Commissioner also expressed her concern about the absence of a commitment to deliver on children’s rights and best interests

“I have consistently pointed out to Government my fear that children are less visible in its plans,” she said. “In November of last year I published a report on Barriers to Effective Government Delivery for Children and Young People.

“That report clearly showed the problems, the Programme for Government should provide the solution.”

Ms Lewsley-Mooney welcomed its commitment to equal treatment and the need to ensure it makes a real difference to people’s lives

However, she fears that the Programme for Government has failed to address the needs of many children, particularly the most vulnerable, including children with disabilities, children who are have been or still are in care and those with mental health difficulties.

“The Programme for Government says that one of its aims is to build a shared and better future for all. In seeking to secure a better future, this must include addressing the deep-seated problems facing vulnerable children in Northern Ireland,” said the Commissioner

“I am calling on the Executive to demonstrate clearly how it will join up the work for children across all government departments.”

“Some vital areas of work, including the 10 Year Strategy for Children and Young People and the Bamford Review are mentioned but not translated into commitments. I am concerned that these vital pieces of work which affect almost every child are not properly addressed in the programme.

“This has the potential to result in significant gaps in provision for children”.

The Commissioner highlighted a range of recommendations she is urging the Executive to implement. These include the need to invest in early intervention and prevention across the Executive as intervening early prevents problems later in people’s lives. She also highlighted the need for Government departments to work together to make sure the 10 Year Strategy for Children and Young People is fully implemented.

“The true test of the effectiveness of the Programme for Government will be in its delivery and the impact it has in improving children’s and their families’ lives” said Ms Lewsley-Mooney.

“I will work proactively and constructively with Departments and where necessary, to challenge the Executive, to account for its delivery for children.

“At the end of this Executive’s term of office, I hope to be able to report that the Programme for Government truly delivered positive and substantial change for children and particularly for those who are most vulnerable or disadvantaged

“I fear that in its current form the Programme for Government will not deliver that change.”

You can read a copy of the Commissioner’s response to the Programme for Government here.


For more information please contact: Jonathan Traynor MCIPR, Senior Communication Officer on 028 9031 1616 or

Notes for Editors

  • The job of the Children’s Commissioner is to promote and safeguard the rights and best interests of children and young people. A key part of that work is to monitor how government is working for government. You can read more about her work here on the web site.