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Lack of basic data from State makes commission's job difficult, says IHREC

Vivienne Clarke

Irish Human Rights and Equality Commissioner Sinead Gibney has said that the State’s failure to provide basic data makes it difficult for the Commission to do its job.

“What we cannot measure we cannot change” she told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.

Ms Gibney, who is in Geneva where Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman will meet with the UN today, said that the UN had been briefed on the Mental Health Commission’s report on CAMHS.

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Ireland ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Children in 1992 and engages with the Commission on a regular basis, she explained.

A major concern was the lack of real time data about issues relating to children such as waiting lists, access to services, experience of the judicial system, trends and issues. Ms Gibney said that the problems with CAMHS would have come to light a lot earlier if Ireland had implemented recommendations made by the UN.

The question the UN wanted answered was "why, when Ireland is such a wealthy country do you have such long waiting lists?

“There are thresholds with regard to the rights of the child that have not been met given the evidence that we're seeing coming through.

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“Waiting lists, access to services, they are not appropriate to where Ireland is at as a nation. It is surprising where we rank compared to other countries. Given the wealth and the status of Ireland, we are coming up very short, with services for young people we are not meeting our obligations under the UN Convention.”

The Commission was very frustrated at the lack of data in relation to children. “To do our job effectively we need to understand specific experiences - access to services etc. Because the State is very poor at collecting information, it makes it very difficult for us to do our job.”

Ms Gibney called on the State to show “a bit more humility”. Ireland should be honest about “what we’re grappling with” so that it could get precise and helpful recommendations from the UN, she urged.

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