The persistent failure to provide services for vulnerable children is a recurring theme of these pages. Hardly a week passes without a story describing how one shortfall or another is defining a young life and limiting potential. The default response from Government is that “we would like to do more but we don’t have the resources”. Not true.
A report from the Comptroller and Auditor General this week will record that Children and Youth Affairs Minister Katherine Zappone returned an unused €60m to the exchequer last year. The criticism, naturally, is scathing: “The Committee recommends that a proper management system be established by the Department to ensure when funding is provided by the Oireachtas that it is utilised in the appropriate manner, in this case to provide social workers to children, and not returned unspent to the exchequer.”
Last year, 6,000 children who needed a social worker had not been allocated one. This is a wanton cruelty but we cannot complain too loudly. After all, we tolerate a system where real accountability remains an irrelevant concept.