Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Ceisteanna (48)

Anne Rabbitte


48. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the steps she has taken to enact the recommendations of the Internet content governance advisory council; if additional steps will be taken to ensure the safety of children online; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25646/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

The Internet Content Governance Advisory Group (ICGAG) was established in 2013 by the then Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.

The purpose was to assess existing provisions for safer and better internet strategies. The report of the ICGAG included a number of recommendations which have application across various Government Departments.

The Deputy will appreciate that I do not have lead Ministerial policy responsibility for internet safety.  In the circumstances I do not propose to comment on the individual recommendations in the report.

However, I have significant responsibilities, as part of a cross-Government approach, in ensuring that the internet is a safer place for children.

In this regard, the Children First Act, 2015 places statutory obligations on organisations providing relevant services to children, including the preparation of a Child Safeguarding Statement. My Department will be amending the Children First Guidance to include a specific reference to online safety in the preparation of the Statement before the end of the second quarter of 2019.

It is also important to ensure that the voices of children and young people are heard and acted upon when we make decisions on internet safety. In this context my Department undertakes and supports a wide range of consultation and participation processes with children and young people through Dáil na nÓg and Comhairle na nÓg.

My Department also provides funding to three national youth organisations which provide on-line safety resources for the youth sector. They are the National Youth Council of Ireland, Spunout - Ireland's Youth Information website, and Youth Work Ireland.

Parents have a crucial role in ensuring that children are safe online. Providing information and services to parents is part of the role of my Department, particularly through the Child and Family Agency, and through community and voluntary sector organisations.

This will be a key focus for the Department in the coming years. I will be outlining steps in that regard in the Early Years Strategy.  

In terms of Government action, the Department of the Taoiseach is currently developing an Action Plan on online safety. This will take into account the recent Report of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Children and Youth Affairs entitled Cyber Security for Children and Young Adults and concerns highlighted in the ICGAG Report.

I am fully committed to playing my part in a co-ordinated cross-Government approach to dealing with this issue, particularly as it relates to children.