I will cast the Tánaiste's mind back to November 2012, when the people of this country voted in a referendum to amend the Constitution to provide for children's rights. She will remember from some of the rhetoric and Government spin at the time that children were to be front and centre in all public policy. Unfortunately, the actions of the Government in the meantime can be said to have been slack. It has cut the number of guidance counsellors, child benefit and core welfare benefits to under 25 year olds.
Will the Tánaiste acknowledge today's publication of a report into mental health services? Will she acknowledge some of its startling details about the welfare of children who have been waiting for longer than one year to access mental health services? As we speak, 3,000 vulnerable children are waiting, 400 of whom have been waiting for longer than one year. The report is startling and confirms what we have been telling the Government for some time, namely, it has shattered community mental health services for children. Only 42% of the staff complement that is required to protect the most vulnerable in society were in situ last year.
One third of vulnerable children who access mental health services are being admitted to adult wards. Will the Tánaiste provide a date by which the Government plans to cease this Dickensian action? Will she confirm whether best practice in terms of child welfare is being followed on those wards? The one third of admissions is due to the Government's policy.
This issue boils down to two questions. When will the Government cease the practice of admitting children to adult wards and is the Tánaiste satisfied that best practice in terms of child welfare guidelines is being followed? Before she answers now, I have submitted a parliamentary question on this matter. I want her to assure the people of this country that the children being admitted to adult wards have the comfort of best practice.