Launch of Annual Report of the Special Rapporteur on Child Protection 2020

Barnardos welcomes the publication today of the annual report of the Special Rapporteur on Child Protection 2020.

Posted on Wednesday 16 December 2020

Spokesperson Available

Barnardos welcomes the publication today of the annual report of the Special Rapporteur on Child Protection 2020. The review reports evidence of important progress made to date, and a desire to improve the level of protection to children at risk of abuse and neglect in Ireland.

Barnardos operates the state’s largest managed Guardian Ad Litem service, which was established in 1997. Ascertaining the views of children in childcare proceedings is a key area for the organisations work and Barnardos has long argued for the need of significant reform in this area and of the need for the child’s voice and interests to be heard in a consistent manner, and welcomes proposals for reform in this area.

According to Freda McKittrick, Head of Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) Services at Barnardos, “The operation of Guardian Ad Litem appointment has arisen in an ad hoc way and is subject to variation throughout the country. There is no governing body or oversight arrangements for provision of the service. Arrangements for children’s views and interests to be represented in court proceedings affecting them are subject to a postcode lottery. We welcome the in-depth analysis of proposed new legislation in the report, and proposals for reform in this area as a significant step forward in providing a quality, consistent service to children.

“The report also identifies a number of concerns within the proposed arrangements, in particular that important functions of the GAL as they currently operate in the interests of the child could be compromised or lost, and that the current proposals for appointment leave a large amount of discretion which could risk that the current regional inconsistencies of appointment would remain.

While these issues remain a concern to us, we welcome the emphasis the report places on adequate resources being made available to ensure that more children can benefit from the appointment of a GAL without a diminution in the level of service provided by GALs.”

The report also outlines areas of other significant concern, particularly in relation to the protection of children posed by the increasing incidence of child homelessness; investigating and responding to complaints of child sexual abuse; voluntary care arrangements; and importance of good focused care planning and consultation with children and young people about care arrangements.

Barnardos welcomes the analysis by the Special Rapporteur for children and looks forward to seeing the final proposals.


For further information, please contact Barnardos Press Office

Tel: 01 7080442 / 086 0445966   

Email: [email protected] / [email protected]

About Barnardos

Barnardos’ mission is to deliver services and work with families, communities, and our partners to transform the lives of vulnerable children who are affected by adverse childhood experiences.