Appointment of Commissioner for Children and Young People urgently required, says Egan

It is unconscionable Northern Ireland remains without a Commissioner for Children and Young People while significant cuts are made to education services and provision, Alliance Education spokesperson Connie Egan MLA has said.

Education Connie Egan

The previous commissioner completed her eight-year tenure at the end of March, with the post remaining vacant since. North Down MLA Ms Egan said the role was vital to ensure the voices of children and young people are heard.

“The previous commissioner was a passionate advocate in the role and served her tenure with dedication and commitment to advancing the interests of our children and young people,” she said.

“Cuts have been made to a vast array of education programmes in recent weeks, including primary school counselling services, youth services, holiday food payments, the Engage programme, and much more. In the midst of devastating cuts to our education Budget, children and young people need to have their voices amplified by every means possible.

“The office of the Commissioner plays a vital role in promoting and safeguarding the rights and interests of children and young people, advancing equality, challenging the decimation of services and empowering and enabling their voice.

“The role of the Commissioner is even more crucial than ever due to the lack of a functioning Executive, another prominent means by which our young people could have their voices heard. It is unconscionable the role remains vacant, as those who are being hurt by it are our children and young people.

“In the absence of a First and Deputy First Minister, who appoint the Commissioner, I have written to the Permanent Secretary of the Executive Office to request an indicative timescale for the recruitment of a new Commissioner, and to encourage the timely recruitment of a suitable candidate.”