Zappone: No-deal Brexit will not impact children in cross-border care

Zappone: No-deal Brexit will not impact children in cross-border care
Katherine Zappone

Youth services and the welfare of children in cross-border care will not be impacted by a no-deal Brexit, an Oireachtas Committee has heard.

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone and her officials also said that, if there is a no-deal, information about children's welfare will still be shared between British and Irish police.

Fianna Fáil's spokeswoman on children, Anne Rabbitte, raised concerns at the Oireachtas Committee on Welfare about what happens if a child is abducted in Ireland and brought to Britain or the North or vice versa.

Department of Children assistant secretary general, Eimear Fisher, said the legal advice received is that children's interests will still be covered if there is no Brexit deal.

This is, in part, because of existing arrangements under the Hague Convention - an international treaty protecting children from abduction.

This also covers keeping in place protections and cooperation in the moving of children from one state to another, in foster care for example.

Anne Rabbitte
Anne Rabbitte

The committee heard that there are 10 Irish children in care in Britain at the moment.

TDs were also told that "the transfer of young people to the UK for secure care/advanced therapeutic mental health services" will not change and will proceed under existing EU legislation.

Nonetheless, the department official said it is still unclear how Britain may act in the event of a no-deal.

Ms Fisher said:

There is no way of knowing how Britain will behave [with a no-deal].

However, there is nothing "lurking" with regards to concerns about children's welfare and a disorderly Brexit, she added.

Minister Zappone confirmed that children's welfare, in the context of a no-deal, has been discussed at Cabinet.

The sharing of information between Britain and Irish authorities will also be enhanced by new legislation under the government's emergency Brexit measures, the committee heard.

And the sharing of information will continue, Ms Zappone emphasised.

The minister also confirmed that problems around recruiting workers in the area of welfare from Britain are being discussed with a working group.

A greater source of concern might be getting people with the relevant qualifications, she added: "The greatest source of potential impact, for areas covered by my Department, would be in relation to those qualifications relevant to social work (given the ongoing drive for the recruitment of social workers by Tusla).

However, the risk associated with any divergence in qualifications is currently considered to be low.

Committee chairman, Alan Farrell, asked if a no-deal would impact on EU social and peace funds for communities in Ireland.

Ms Zappone said the information from the European Commission is that that peace funds will be continued.

But she also told TDs: "While confident that the current peace programme will be maintained any funding impacts on youth services as a result of Brexit will be kept under review through 2019."

More on this topic

Boris Johnson: We’ll break out of EU’s manacles like The Hulk if no deal struckBoris Johnson: We’ll break out of EU’s manacles like The Hulk if no deal struck

Jo Swinson: I’ll cancel Brexit if I’m PMJo Swinson: I’ll cancel Brexit if I’m PM

David Cameron: Boris Johnson ‘only backed Brexit for his career'David Cameron: Boris Johnson ‘only backed Brexit for his career'

Sam Gyimah becomes sixth MP to defect to Liberal Democrats this yearSam Gyimah becomes sixth MP to defect to Liberal Democrats this year