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  • Senator Sharon Keogan

Senator Sharon Keogan — Failure of Children in State Care and GAAGO

It is no secret in the Chamber that in my eyes the protection of children and the provision of care for them is of paramount importance. From education to safeguarding to mental health and holistic well-being, the Government's role in ensuring the children of this country are given every opportunity to grow, succeed and flourish cannot be understated. Yet it seems that every week there is another story of children in Ireland somewhere and somehow being failed by the State. This time it was revealed in a HIQA report that two residents of a care home for disabled children in County Monaghan were confined to the top floor of a house when a lift was broken for a total of 59 days over two separate occasions. Wheelchair-bound children in State care were trapped in their own building. It sounds like a horror story of yesteryear that would get trotted out to remind us of how much we have progressed but, of course, this is here and now.

The report from HIQA states the provider did not respond appropriately to either incident and had not put in place alternative arrangements. It states the provider also failed to notify HIQA regarding the issues with the lift and the impact it had on both occasions. The report states that during this time the children could not attend school and one missed an appointment. They could not engage in limited activities on the landing of the first floor and they were forced to take their meals in the upstairs office area. On top of this, the centre was deemed to be not compliant in eight regulation areas, including fire precautions and resident rights. This comes down to oversight. The information came on foot of an unannounced inspection and we need more of these. Perhaps a debate with the Minister might be of use also.

On a different front, I find myself in agreement with the Tánaiste when it comes to how we broadcast the GAA. GAAGO is an online-only joint venture between RTÉ and the GAA. It charges €79 for access. RTÉ is a national broadcaster. The Government pays it to broadcast. When it comes to our national sports it charges people anyway. Not only this but it will not even broadcast them on TV, confining distribution instead to streaming.

It is unacceptable, especially due to the barrier it creates for older GAA fans who may not have the means or knowledge to access this premium subscription service. Age Action stated:

Our concern would be that it is really important that everybody can take part in GAA. It is part of the fabric of society. For many people they have been loyal followers of the GAA all their lives.

That is spot on. Perhaps the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media could come to the House to discuss greater equality in access to GAA.

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