Following an open recruitment process in which children and young people played an important role, Dr Niall Muldoon was appointed Ireland’s Ombudsman for Children by President Michael D Higgins in February 2015.
What does the OCO do?
The Ombudsman for Children’s Office (OCO) is an independent office. The OCO was set up in 2004 under a law called the Ombudsman for Children Act, 2002.
Under this law, the Ombudsman for Children has two main roles:
- to deal with complaints made by or for children and young people about the actions of public organisations
- to promote the rights and welfare of children and young people under 18 years old living in Ireland.
The OCO’s work to promote children’s rights and welfare includes:
- supporting people, including children and young people, to find out about children’s rights and how those rights can be respected, protected and made real
- finding out what children and young people are concerned about and highlighting their opinions to the Government and other people who make decisions that affect children and young people
- giving advice to the Government and others to help make sure that laws and plans affecting children and young people respect children’s rights
- encouraging public organisations to work in ways that promote children and young people’s rights and welfare
- carrying out research to get a better understanding of issues that are important in children and young people’s lives.
In relation to complaints:
- Children and young people can make a complaint to the OCO or an adult can do this for a child or young person.
- The OCO can look into complaints about certain actions of public organisations that may have had a negative effect on a child.
- Public organisations that the OCO can deal with complaints about include government departments, state agencies, healthcare services, schools, social work services and local authorities.
- The OCO’s complaints service is a free service.
- When the OCO investigates complaints, we have to be independent. We are also impartial. This means that we don’t take sides: when we are looking into a complaint, we need to be fair and understand both sides of the story.
- As an ombudsman office, the OCO is intended to be a place of last resort for complaints.
- The complaints that the OCO receives relate to a wide range of issues affecting children, including issues to do with education, child protection, State care, family support, childcare, healthcare, housing and justice.
- Following an investigation of a complaint, the OCO may make recommendations to the public organisation concerned about how it can improve its practice.
More information about the OCO is available on the OCO’s website, www.oco.ie.
Visit the OCO
Every year, we welcome hundreds of children and young people to the OCO with their schools and youth projects to take in part in our educational workshops. These workshops support children and young people to work together to explore children’s rights and to share their views on issues that concern them.
We are always delighted to welcome groups of children and young people to the OCO.
So, whether you’re a young person, a primary school teacher, a CSPE teacher, a Transition Year coordinator, a Youthreach coordinator, a youth worker or a professional working with children and young people, why don’t you contact us on (01) 8656800 to find out more?
More information about our workshops is also on our website.