Taoiseach 'not happy' over revelations about child protection services

Enda Kenny says a cultural change in society and within Tusla itself is needed

Taoiseach 'not happy' over revelations about child protection services

Photo: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

The Taoiseach says the focus of the child and family agency Tusla needs to be on the protection of children, rather than a culture of protecting a structure and jobs.

Enda Kenny has told the Dáil he is "not happy" with the revelations of the past 24 hours, which outlined serious failures in the child protection system.

report published yesterday called for a complete cultural change within the system.

Gardaí commissioned Dr Geoffrey Shannon – a leading authority in child and family law – to undertake the major audit following concerns over the removal of two Roma children from their parents in Tallaght in 2013.

Children with nowhere left to go have found themselves brought to hospitals and Garda stations, according to the report – at times without a social worker to explain what was happening.

Tusla's out of hours social work was also found to be “inadequate” - as some children had to wait in hospital for services to reopen, while others were returned to the same home they had been removed from.

Dr Shannon said the findings were "profoundly shocking, disturbing and deeply distressing."

Mr Kenny says he will talk to Tusla, as well as the Justice and Children's ministers.

He explained: "You can't have children living in fear, in urine-soaked clothes, in situations where they deserve the protection and the support of the State.

"There's nothing more important than this. So I again thank Dr Shannon for his report, but let's see that the 17 recommendations are implemented."

Meanwhile, the chairperson of the Irish Association of Social Workers, Frank Browne, told Newstalk Drive about their members' concerns.

He observed: "In fairness to Tusla [...] they are trying to set up this emergency out of hours service. It needs to be, as Geoffrey Shannon said, in place now - and it should have been in place many years ago."

In a statement today, Tusla chief executive Fred McBride said: “The report conducted by Dr Shannon, published yesterday provided useful information on the child protection system.

"In line with best practice and our commitment to ensuring the enhancement of services, I have asked the Chief Operations Officer to oversee a comprehensive analysis of the cases identified in Dr Shannon’s report, and to examine the basis for the professional decisions that were made in these cases. This analysis will address key themes identified in Dr Shannon’s report."

Meanwhile, the Oireachtas Children and Youth Affairs will tomorrow discuss foster provision, in the wake of this week's report.

Chairman Jim Daly said: "These repeated failings, highlighted by Dr Geoffrey Shannon, are not acceptable. They are distressing in the extreme and cannot be allowed to continue.”