Sinn Féin spokesperson on Children and Youth Affairs Kathleen Funchion has strongly opposed suggestions that the Department of Children and Youth Affairs may be axed as an independent department and subsumed into another department.
Her comments follow recent media reports that Fianna Fáil are planning to do so.
Speaking in the Dáil today, Teachta Funchion said: “I cannot empathise enough how much of a retrograde step this would be.
“You only have to look at the history of how this country has treated women and children over the years and the one department that primarily deals with children and women’s issues, to even consider getting rid of it and axing it? That would be a very dark day for our country.”
She added: “The Department of Children and Youth Affairs cannot be some sort of sacrificial lamb for the purposes of political expediency on the part of those currently engaged in coalition talks.
“While not without its issues, the Department has been integral in furthering the rights and welfare of children at the cabinet table over the last number of years. Any process that sees it subsumed into another portfolio with competing resources and time would be a retrograde step.
“Furthermore, it would certainly not be in keeping with the spirit of the result of the 2012 referendum on the Rights of the Child.
“Sinn Féin will be opposing any such moves and encourage others to do the same.
“I think it would be beneficial for the leaders of all three parties involved in coalition talks to make their position on this proposal clear as a matter of urgency.”