Children of Ireland

Children of Ireland

Realizing Children’s Rights in Ireland


Overall, children in Ireland have a decent quality of life. However in order to better heed guidance from the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, Ireland must make more effort to protect this seemingly voiceless segment of its population. Respecting certain principles like non-discrimination or the prohibition of violence against children would go a long way in improving Irish society as a whole, especially in this difficult, economic climate.


Realization of Children’s Rights Index:
9,05/ 10
Green level: Good situation

Population: 4.67 million
Pop. ages 0-14: 20.9 %

Life expectancy: 80,7 years
Under-5 mortality rate: 3 ‰

Main problems faced by children in Ireland:


Welfare payments going to the poorest households are not sufficient, and the most disadvantaged children suffer for it. Single-parent households are especially affected, and the recent financial crisis has only intensified this shortfall due to the rise of unemployment and, even more importantly government budgetary restrictions.


You can see cases of discrimination towards Romanies, nomadic people, as well as disabled children, notably in admissions to schools and access to housing and basic health services. It is not uncommon to witnessracist attitudes and words exhibited by teachers and other children in primary and secondary schools. Ireland’s efforts to integrate or familiarize children of foreign communities to Irish culture are insufficient and their exclusion impedes race relations in society as a whole.

Protection of Children

A report that was given a lot of media coverage made public cases of abuse of more than 30,000 Irish children that had been placed in Catholic institutions by the government between 1936 and 2000.  It was reported that complaints often were not recorded nor followed by investigations; instead, allegations of abuse were ignored on a wholesale basis.

Another report revealed hundreds of cases of sexual abuse and mistreatment committed by preachers between 1975 and 2004. Once again it was covered up by the Church and governmental authorities. The children were not protected and some of them died without the guilty parties being punished.

These events reflect the gaping holes in the system when it comes to protecting and placing children. In these two cases,  torture and blatant abuse of children were covered up by the population as well as by various levels of governmental authority.

A referendum concerning the introduction of a new clause on children’s rights in the Constitution had to be held in 2010. The goal was to bring to light these types of child abuse. This draft, however, was postponed, just like all directives purposed to protect the children of Ireland.  Laws to protect children are notoriously absent in the national laws of Ireland.  Without such legislation in place, violence against children will continue to fester within Ireland and this is not an acceptable consequence.

Domestic Abuse

Corporal punishment is not explicitly prohibited in family settings. The lack of sensitivity of the population to nonviolent education and discipline and to the harmful effects of corporal punishments is unfortunate. Furthermore, it is a shame that Ireland doesn’t take a stance against female genital mutilations that take place within its boundaries.

Juvenile Detention

Certain measures, such as detention in a secured facility, are still applied too often when they should only be used as a last resort. The lack of alternatives to the confinement of children is appalling. Further, not all confined children are detained in cells separated from adults. For example, certain centers for youths between the ages of 18 and 21 host minors between 16 and 17 years old.  Because these centers often refuse access to organizations that protect children’s rights, it impedes our ability to visit the premises, check out the conditions of Irish juvenile imprisonment, to remedy the problems.

Best Interest of the Child

In Ireland, the child’s opinion and the notion of the child’s best interests are still not taken into account enough during legislative procedures and administrative and judicial decisions.

In the same manner, Catholicism, which is very present in Ireland, has a large influence on the education system. The children that are not Catholic cannot choose an education of another faith or even a secular one.


The most vulnerable children, mostly refugees, have the most difficulty accessing medical treatment. The care of children suffering from mental illnesses is equally reprehensible because of the lack of structure and services adapted to their needs and to those of their families. For example, children who are victims of psychological abuseare often treated as adults when what they really need is specific treatment geared for their age group. There is a stark absence of infrastructure and welfare support aimed to help orphans in Irish society


Irish youth consume a lot of alcohol and the lack of educational campaigns highlighting the harmful health effects of this substance is appalling. Moreover, the suicide rate of boys is really high and seems to correlate with alcohol consumption.

Adolescents lack sex education classes. This absence of information isn’t without consequence to their health. The risk of sexually transmitted diseases is higher. In addition, because abortion is prohibited, young girls who do abort do so secretly and often  under dangerous conditions.