Our children should not be subjected to further delay – Children’s Commissioner urges politicians to get government working

16 May 2022 News
Children Holding Hands

Koulla Yiasouma, Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People raises her concerns over the delay in forming an Executive:

“It is deeply concerning that more than a week since the NI Assembly election, we still do not have a functioning Executive or Assembly in place. It is very clear that delay is having and will continue to have a very real and increasing impact on the daily lives of some of the most vulnerable in our society.

“The situation will only get worse with each day that passes. Every day that we don’t have a government in place to take the important decisions is unacceptable for children and young people who have already been waiting too long for urgent and pressing issues to be addressed.

“Our children like all of us, are just emerging from an unprecedented pandemic, something that has disproportionally affected them. Not only has this exacerbated issues but it has also added further delays to addressing the many underlying problems that exist.

“My office has already highlighted in a number of significant reviews that Northern Ireland has the highest waiting lists for physical and mental health. The pandemic has made this much worse and delay in getting support can have a profound impact on all aspects of a child’s life due to their age and developmental stage. We need a fully funded mental health strategy and a long term, multi-year budget to progress reform of our health system.

“The issues driving inequalities in education must also be addressed by Government. The number of children with special educational needs (SEN) now stands (2020-21) at 67,824 which is equivalent to 19.3% of all pupils. We must have a functioning Assembly and Executive to make decisions and allocate funding to progress transformation of our education system and ensure the desperately needed reforms for children with special education needs are progressed without further delay.

“More than 100,000 children here are living in poverty. In NDNA Parties committed to delivering an Anti-Poverty Strategy to address this, but this has not yet happened. The cost of living crisis is having a devastating impact on low income families – including working families – the ‘holiday hunger’ payments in place of Free School Meals over the summer months can’t be made without an Executive.

“Yet again the children of Northern Ireland are being left behind as their peers on these islands are involved in plans to progress their rights and improve services. As Commissioner for children and young people I would not be doing my job if I did not raise such concerns.

“Our children and young people deserve to have the best possible start in life but regrettably they are being failed. I strongly urge all those involved to redouble their efforts to resolve this current impasse so we can move forward together in addressing the issues that are important to children and young people and their families.”


Notes to Editors:

  • For further information or to request an interview with the Commissioner please contact communications@niccy.org or call 07917544177.

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