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Political deadlock is impacting on vulnerable children

The lack of a functioning executive is having a detrimental impact on a whole host of important issues in Northern Ireland.

Reports and strategies are gathering dust in the absence of a minister to take decisions and while civil servants are keeping key functions going, simply treading water means we are effectively falling behind when we should be moving forward for the benefit of all citizens.

People know that we are failing to make progress in a number of crucial areas but sometimes it is useful to have it spelled out for us.

A new report on the state of child health in the north has done just that, sending out a warning on the detrimental effect of not only the Stormont stalemate but also the uncertainty over Brexit.

The study, from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, looked at progress that has been made on child health recommendations published in 2017.

Unfortunately, progress has been poor in Northern Ireland.

Some initiatives have seen the light of day but overall the vast majority of recommendations cannot move forward without an Assembly or executive.

The report points out that children and young people's mental health remains at 'crisis point', obesity rates are stark and we still don't have a child death overview panel, despite the hyponatraemia inquiry.

The report's authors do not hold back. With no end in sight to the stalemate and with Brexit on the horizon, they 'fear that child health and wellbeing in Northern Ireland is in real jeopardy.'

In particular, there is concern over the delivery of post-Brexit specialist healthcare services in the Republic and Britain, saying this needs to be preserved.

The report calls on political parties to end to the deadlock and commit to prioritising child health.

It is absolutely unacceptable that vulnerable children are being disadvantaged by a failure to make politics work in Northern Ireland.

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