As appeared in Letters – Irish Independent – 29 June, 2012 edition

Reading ‘The Report of the Independent Child Death Review Group’, I could not escape the feeling that only the mad and the naive believe we will ever spend the kind of money required to keep all our children safe, happy, content and fully equipped with the emotional wherewithal to live their life to its potential. To even suggest the possibility is silly and so bedevilled with ideology that I doubt one could even get a consensus on what ‘safe’ means.

As for the other three? Well, good luck with that.

What I think we can safely agree on is that a social worker should maintain records to an agreed standard or risk censure. We can agree that the death of every child should be fully investigated and statistics collated, be they in or out of the notice of the HSE. We can agree that the in camera rule may be protecting the identity of individual children, but it is blinding the entire child-protection field, professional and academic, to what is happening to children in the courts.

We can agree, because it was agreed nearly 20 years ago, that any child who comes into the care of the State should have an individual care plan. A plan that is regularly assessed by a multi-disciplinary team. We can agree, or should agree, that the professional standards that social workers, teachers, doctors and judges apply to themselves in theory, should actually be applied in practice.

And we surely can agree that anyone who aspires to a management position in any of the child-protection professions should be able to recognise as failing any professional for whom they have responsibility.

Once recognised, they should be able to support or, if necessary, terminate the job of that failing professional. The job is just too important and too poorly resourced for bloody amateurs to be continually endured.