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International Spotlight on Ireland’s Treatment of Children.

Irish delegation includes parent of a Deaf child.

Posted: 13th January 2016 International Spotlight on Ireland’s Treatment of Children!


The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, a group of 18 independent experts elected by Members of the UN meets on Thursday January 14th in Geneva to review Ireland’s children’ rights record. It is 10 years since Ireland was last reviewed on this issue. Andrew Geary, a parent of a Deaf child, is included in the delegation. The Children’s Rights Alliance

The State’s delegation will be led by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr. James O’Reilly, and up to 20 government and statutory officials will attend the review. The Children’s Rights Alliance is leading a civil society delegation from Ireland of over 20 representatives, one of whom is Andrew Geary.

Andrew is the father of Calum, a 7 year old boy who is profoundly deaf. Calum attends St Columba’s School for Deaf Children in Cork. Andrew has been actively seeking to improve his son’s access to education and the standard of education to Deaf and Hard of Hearing students generally. He was invited by the Children’s Rights Alliance and the Irish Deaf Society to join the delegation to the UN in Geneva.

Ireland ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1992, but we lag behind many other countries in actually implementing this convention and supporting our children and their right to an equal education. This is particularly true for Deaf and Hard of Hearing students, where a recent AHEAD report found that the numbers of students had actually decreased in Third Level education in Ireland.

Early Intervention UN Committee on the Rights of the Child

Many of the educational problems related to the poor educational outcomes for Deaf and Hard of Hearing children originate in early childhood. Access to early intervention supports and access to language support, both spoken and sign language, is far from satisfactory. Literacy levels among Deaf and Hard of Hearing children continues to be a major problem that impacts significantly on their educational and vocational outcomes. Although we are diagnosing hearing loss much earlier with the introduction of newborn hearing screening, we are failing to reap the full benefits of this for our Deaf and Hard of Hearing children.

“We are not providing families with comprehensive and standardised early intervention support programmes” says Brendan Lennon, DeafHear’s Head of Advocacy. “Early intervention that supports early childhood development is key to the child’s ongoing development, including educational development. The fact that we are still awaiting the roll out of the NCSE’s Inclusion Support Service more than a year after the announcement by the Minister, demonstrates that the Government is not moving quickly enough”, he added. He cites the failure to provide communication aids at an earlier age to children now that they are being diagnosed earlier as a simple example of inertia and bureaucracy that is inhibiting the children’s development.

DeafHear wishes the Irish delegation every success in Geneva, and hopes that Andrew will be able to raise issues related to deaf education directly with the UN Committee. Following this review, DeafHear will continue to collaborate with parents and other interested organisations to seek overdue improvements to education to ensure Deaf and Hard of Hearing children can have their right to education fully vindicated on an equal opportunity basis, as stipulated in the UN Convention. Line Break Image

Related to this story…

Numbers of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students at Third Level declines.
Posted: March 2015

A recent AHEAD report has highlighted an alarming drop in the numbers of Deaf and Hard of Hearing students attending full-time courses in Third Level colleges. Read On… Numbers of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students at Third Level declines.

Calum Geary Update August 2012:
Posted: August 2012

DeafHear is delighted to hear that Calum Geary from Cork and his family have had a successful trip to America.
The following press release provides details of their recent visit to the John Tracy Clinic in California: We have just returned... Read On… Calum Geary Update August 2012


Media Contacts will provide spokespersons to comment on issues relevant to Deaf and Hard of Hearing people on request.

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