Ombudsman for Children - Ireland

The role of the Ombudsman for Children is to promote the rights and welfare of children.

The Ombudsman for Children's Office has three main functions: the promotion of children's rights; the examination and investigation of complaints from children and young people or from adults on their behalf; and the undertaking of research and policy activities.

Recent activities of the Ombudsman for Children's Office (OCO) include the following.

Research and legislation work
The Ombudsman for Children submits advice to Government on her own initiative or on request from the Government or a Government Minister. The Office has, in the past year, submitted advice on the areas of criminal justice, integration, adoption, immigration, human trafficking as well as reiterating our previous call for the need for a Constitutional referendum on children’s rights. Copies of the Ombudsman for Children’s advice on these issues can be downloaded from the ENOC website.
The Ombudsman has made written and oral submissions to Parliamentary Committees on a range of issues including a Constitutional amendment.

The Office has recently completed an independent consultation with Separated Children living in the care of the State.
The purpose of the consultation was to develop a deeper understanding of their experiences since they have arrived in Ireland. The aim of the project was to identify key issues of concern to the children themselves and in so doing, the project has endeavoured to identify any gaps in supports for Separated Children and develop recommendations aimed at addressing these gaps. The outcomes of this project will be brought to the Oireachtas (Irish Parliament) as well as the Child Trafficking Working Group.

Examination and investigation of complaints
In 2008 the OCO received 810 complaints. In 2009 we have seen a further increase on the figures for last year. Much of this followed the publication of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse. However, the increase has been maintained in the months since.  At a presentation to a Parliamentary Health Committee we detailed the nature of some of our existing complaints.  

In 2008 the Ombudsman for Children initiated a number of own volition investigations. Section 10(1)(a)(ii) of the Ombudsman for Children Act, 2002 provides that the Ombudsman for Children may conduct an investigation where an action may have adversely affected a child, where there may have been maladministration and where she considers that an investigation would be warranted.

An investigation into the state of implementation of the Children First: National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children by the Health Services Executive (HSE) was initiated by the OCO in November 2008. 

Since its establishment, this Office has received a growing number of complaints regarding allocation of Local Authority housing for children with disabilities.  Nearly all of these complaints regarded concerns over allocation of Local Authority/social housing to children with disabilities. In view of this, the OCO commissioned a special report regarding children with disability and their families accessing suitable local authority housing.

Promotional and participation activities
In 2008, the Office took a variety of steps to provide for children and young people’s participation and to raise awareness of their rights and concerns at all levels, including the most influential level – legislators.  In 2008 we brought those concerns to the Parliament.

During 2008, we commenced work with the OCO’s second Youth Advisory Panel (YAP). The Panel includes twenty five young people from rural and urban areas throughout Ireland, whose circumstances and experiences broadly reflect the diversity that now exists in Irish society. We are clear with the young people that they are not expected to represent the views of all young people in Ireland but are there representing their own views. Following consultation with children and young people from around the country we have adhered to the principle of participation in a voluntary capacity. 



Key information

Operation level:
Works with age groups:
Organisation type:
Ombudsmen / Independent human rights institutions


Organisation mandate

, Children 0 - 18

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