State bodies are 'failing' young people according to the Ombudsman for Children.
In his annual report for 2017, Dr Niall Muldoon warns that children struggling with mental health problems and homelessness are not getting the help they need.
The ombudsman’s office received 1,755 new complaints last year - a rise of 4% on the previous year.
The highest number came from the Dublin region. A total of 295 complaints were received from Dublin - 28% of all new complaints in 2017.
“In 2017, we saw another increase in the number of new complaints, and this highlights a continued failure by public bodies to put the best interests of children at the centre of their decisions,” said Dr Muldoon.
He said he is seriously concerned that suicidal children and young people are being forced to wait for days to access emergency mental health assessments in parts of the country.
“We have told the HSE we had serious concerns about how suicidal young people access emergency services, and the difficulties faced in certain parts of the country,” he said.
“All children who need an assessment of mental health in emergency departments should be able to access this quickly – not days after the event.”
The report calls for a new way of thinking from Government, labelling it ‘shameful’ that over 25% of Ireland’s homeless population are children.
“The State needs to move away from prioritising financial interests that view housing as a commodity and instead recognise it as a social good, offering children and families a secure place to live in dignity,” said Dr Muldoon.
The 2017 report warns that families living in Direct Provision are finding it hard to access the ombudsman’s office – one year after children living under the system were finally granted the right to do so.
Dr Muldoon warned that the lack of access over the past 17 years has adversely impacted children’s rights and compounded State failures in the area.