There was always liaison between the Department of Health and various other Departments pertaining to matters of common interest, whether it be children or whatever. This is standard practice throughout the country and there is co-operation between various Departments. Legally a particular Department has responsibility for certain matters, and obviously that is the Department which will make the decisions and implement the decisions taken by supreme bodies, like the courts. We see the health board as the ideal structure to look after the welfare of children in need of care.
The Department of Health has its own child care division. We see an opportunity there for the Oireachtas, the Legislature and the public at large, through their representatives, having a direct input and being in a position to question a Minister about the affairs of a health board, about decisions of a health board, and that information coming right through. While I appreciate what the Deputy says, that there is an involvement between various Departments — Education, Justice and Health — we have good liaison with them; there has been tremendous co-operation with the Department of Justice welfare services over the years and I am very confident that will be the situation in the future. I do not think it would serve the best interests of our children, the children of the nation, the children who need care, if we were to create another organisation or another layer of bureaucracy because no matter how it is managed, the legal responsibilities given to various Departments cannot be taken from them. Somebody has to be responsible for children's education. Somebody has to be responsible for the criminal law — the Department of Justice — and somebody has to be responsible for health. If we are to amalgamate them and put them into some new organisation or structure, I believe we will just be adding layers of bureaucracy, and at the end of the day we will not be giving the level of service our children need. It is important to be able to deliver that service directly from the top to the bottom, to the children who need it, as quickly as possible. That would be our paramount consideration.