The Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission has said it is imperative that Ireland speaks up and shows moral leadership in protecting migrant and refugee children.
Emily Logan has also described being left "numb and shocked" by US President Donald Trump's travel ban.
Speaking at a seminar in Dublin on Ireland's Response to the Global Refugee and Migration Crisis, Ms Logan said: "We have felt fear and insecurity in this period of uncertainty following Brexit and just these past days been left numb and shocked at the divisive and negative developments emerging in particular from the new administration in the US".
Ms Logan said the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, estimates that children make up 52% of all Syrian refugees.
She said a number of these have become icons of war and conflict, including three-year-old Alan Kurdi, whose lifeless body was photographed face down at the water's edge on a beach in Turkey in 2015.
Ms Logan said "the current difficulties at European level, presents an opportunity for Ireland to show the same moral leadership, and to arrest the disturbing and growing European trend of regression from fundamental human rights values".
She has welcomed the introduction of the single procedure, which reduces the previous prolonged delays in the asylum adjudication process that have led to protracted periods of residence in direct provision centres.
But Ms Logan said the eligibility of family members remains a particular area of concern which is likely to cause considerable hardship to refugee families.
She said the commission will continue to seek reform to ensure that a full range of family relationships are fully vindicated.
"The eligibility of families is restricted to certain family members - spouses, civil partners and children," she said.
"Where the applicant is under 18 years of age, their parents, and siblings under 18 who are unmarried. No other family members will be eligible for family reunification."