Ombudsman finds Tusla breached people's rights

A report has found a number of failures in how allegations were handled

Ombudsman finds Tusla breached people's rights

Photocall file photo

The Child and Family Agency Tusla breached the rights of people accused of sexual abuse, according to a new report from the Ombudsman.

It highlights a number of failures in how the child and family agency handled allegations.

This includes some cases notes from interviews being shredded before being properly digitised and approved.

Another case saw a man denied access to his grandchild after unsubstantiated allegations of abuse which took five years to process.

He was cleared and granted access just nine months before he died.

Ombudsman Peter Tyndall says such serious allegations need to be dealt with properly.

"I think (when) people find themselves facing that kind of allegation their life is almost on hold, isn't it, until the matter is resolved.

"It's such a potential stain on your character - then you can't, in that instance, get access to your own grandchildren.

"So I think all of these issues need to be dealt with properly".

Other cases saw confidential documents sent repeatedly to the wrong address, allegations being misfiled and those being accused not being given written notice of the allegations.

Brian Lee is Tusla's director of quality assurance. He says they are working to ensure these mistakes do not happen again.

"In the context of 47,000 referrals and other services, the numbers are really low.

"But I also like to assure people that the new systems and processes we put in place will considerably reduce the likelihood of these types of errors occurring in the future".

The agency also called for more resources to help to deal with the large number of cases reported.

Tusla received over 47,000 referrals to its Child Protection and Welfare Service in 2016.

Some 20,127 (43%) of those referrals required an initial assessment. During the same period, Tusla received 1,172 formal complaints, 54 of which ultimately reached the Ombudsman.

Read the report in full here

Additional reporting: Jack Quann