Inconsistencies in Tusla management of child sexual abuse cannot be tolerated – Farrell

-   Alan Farrell TD

Inconsistencies in Tusla’s management of child sexual abuse cannot be tolerated, a Fine Gael TD has said.

TD for Dublin Fingal and Chair of the Oireachtas Committee on Children and Youth Affairs, Alan Farrell, has voiced his concern regarding Tusla’s management of allegations of child sexual abuse, following the completion of an investigation by HIQA.

Deputy Farrell said: “I am shocked that such significant failings have occurred in how Tusla manages allegations of child sexual abuse.

“The HIQA report, which resulted from Tusla’s management of a false allegation against a Garda whistle-blower, identified shortcomings in the screening of child abuse allegations, the development and handling of safety plans for children, and also the manner by which those people, subject to an allegation of abuse, were communicated with.

“This report highlights that children, in certain cases, were left in a position of potential risk. This is wholly unacceptable.

“We have a responsibility to ensure our most vulnerable citizens receive the highest levels of protection and support possible. There can be no room for shortcomings where there are allegations of child sexual abuse, or in cases where adults have made allegations that they were abused as children, is shocking.

“We cannot accept a situation whereby children are left at risk of sexual abuse due to inconsistencies in how preliminary enquiries into allegations take place.

“A particularly damning finding in the HIQA report, is that inconsistencies existed in Tusla’s safety-planning practice, which resulted in some children being adequately safeguarded, while other children at potential risk were not.

“Furthermore, the lack of a standardised approach for staff to manage allegations made by adults of abuse during their childhood is shocking. It has led to differences and delays in the handling of such cases, and also in relation to how those subject to such an allegation were communicated with, if such communication took place at all.

“It is important to note the HIQA report does identify examples of good practice by Tusla personnel and a clear commitment by dedicated staff to working in the best interests of child welfare and child protection. However, the fact remains that any inconsistencies in relation to such a serious matter – child sexual abuse – cannot be tolerated.

“As Chair of the Children and Youth Affairs Committee, I have called Tusla before the Committee tomorrow (Wednesday) to address the issues raised in the HIQA report. I will work with my Committee colleagues, of all parties and none, to tackle these issues, and ensure our children receive the protection and supports they both require and deserve.”

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