TODAY’S meeting between the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, Patricia Lewsley, and the First Minister and Deputy First Minister is a milestone in improving the lives of children and young people.
Ms Lewsley said the meeting was an historic realisation of the vision of the first Northern Ireland Assembly in creating the independent children’s commissioner’s post to make a difference to children and young people’s lives.
“At today’s meeting issues were dealt with and raised that will have a real impact for children and young people,” she said.
“The Rev Dr Paisley and Mr McGuinness gave a clear and unequivocal commitment to listen to and act upon the issues my office raise on behalf of children and young people.
“Among the issues we discussed were the recent tragic deaths of young people through reported suicide, services for children and young people with a learning disability, speech and language therapy services and the high levels of children living in poverty.”
Also present were the junior ministers from the Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister, Ian Paisley Junior and Gerry Kelly, who will assume responsibility for children’s issues among their portfolios.
“We discussed how the Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister can support the work of other departments through a ministerial sub-group, which I hope will act to make sure that all Government departments are acting to promote and safeguard the rights and best interests of children.”
The Commissioner added that she will meet the First and Deputy First Minister later this year to discuss her priorities that needed acted upon during the life of the Assembly.