Tag Archives: Katherine Zappone

Above front row from left: Minister David Staunton TD, Minister for Justice and Equality Charles Flanagan, TD and Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone TD

This morning

Government Buildings, Dublin 2.

Minister for Justice Charles Flanagan, and Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone TD join interest groups at the launch. of the LGBTQI+ Inclusion National Strategy  to ‘target discrimination, promote inclusion, and improve quality of life and wellbeing for LGBTI people’.

Sam Boal/Rollingnews

From top: Public Services Card; Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone (left); Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon

This morning.

In The Irish Examiner.

Cianan Brennan reports that the Department of Children and Youth Affairs still hasn’t replied to a near two-week-old request from the Data Protection Commissioner for information concerning the controversial Public Services Card and the new National Childcare Scheme.

The scheme was scheduled to begin at the end of this month but now won’t begin until November.

Mr Brennan reports:

“The commissioner’s query concerns the requirement for all applicants to the new scheme to hold a public services card, which is perceived as being at odds with the commissioner ’s recent finding that mandating citizens to hold a PSC in order to access State services other than welfare is illegal.

“…The department has become something of an outlier since the publication of the commissioner’s report into the PSC on September 17, as the majority of other departments have since dropped their mandatory PSC requirement, despite Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty’s stated intention to legally challenge the commissioner’s rulings.”

Anyone?

Department yet to reply to Public Services Card info request (Cianan Brennan, The Irish Examiner)

Previously: House Of Card

‘Iarnród Éireann Used The Public Services Card To Collect The Information’

‘It Would Be In The Circuit Court So It Probably Wouldn’t Be Very Expensive’

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone

Yesterday.

Conall Ó Fátharta reported in the Irish Examiner that the Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone had acknowledged the “distress” suffered by adopted and illegally adopted people who are being denied access to personal information that State bodies hold.

Mr Ó Fátharta reported:

The Department of Children and Youth Affairs said Ms Zappone is aware “of the challenges being experienced by Tusla in relation to the release of information”.

“Tusla is obliged to adhere to the GDPR and data protection legislation in relation to the release of information which may identify a third party,” said the statement.

“Tusla must assess its own legal responsibilities in this respect and apply this to individual cases.”

However…

Solicitor who specialises in data protection Fred Logue tweetz:

“I am probably going to have this chiseled on my tombstone but I’ll say it again, there is nothing in GDPR that says you don’t have a right of access to your personal data if it could identify another person.

“In fact such an exclusion was proposed by the European Council in early drafts of the GDPR but was not accepted by the EU legislator.”

Katherine Zappone aware of distress at Tusla refusals (Conall Ó Fátharta, The Irish Examiner)

Previously: ‘To Ensure That It Can’t Be Found’

‘Every Single Thing Minister Zappone Says Here Is Factually And Legally Wrong’

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Dr Katherine Zappone

This morning.

In the Irish Examiner.

Conall Ó Fátharta reports:

During questioning from forum [Mother and Baby Home Collaborative Forum] members, the delegation was shown an almost entirely redacted death cert the agency sent to a 69-year-old woman.

The woman was among the 126 cases of illegal birth registrations Tusla discovered in the records of the St Patrick’s Guild adoption agency. Its records transferred to Tusla in 2016.

The certificate was for the woman’s mother, but all information apart from a doctor’s signature and cause of death was redacted by Tusla, including details of the registrar general.

As the recipient of the record had never been legally adopted, the delegation was asked what legislative basis Tusla had “to start interfering with public records”.

“I think the reason to redact all of that is to ensure that it can’t be found in the GRO [General Registration Office] because it is third-party information as per GDPR,” the Tusla representative said.

Mr Ó Fátharta also reports:

The Irish Examiner has obtained an audio recording of that meeting [between the forum and representatives of Tusla] in which a member of the delegation said the agency carries out a “risk assessment” as to the “likelihood of someone being harmed or not harmed” before it decides whether or not to release personal information to adopted people about their early lives.

….The Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) has said there are around 150,000 adoption records in existence and approximately 100,000 of these are currently in the custody of Tusla or the Adoption Authority of Ireland (AAI). Tusla has held many of the records since 2014.

Tusla censored death cert so it ‘can’t be found’ (Conall Ó Fátharta, The Irish Examiner)

Tusla relying on ‘flimsy grounds’ to justify redacting records and birth certs (Conall Ó Fátharta, The Irish Examiner)

Previously: “Who Are They Trying To Protect Here?”

Conflating And Confusing Privacy And Secrecy

Rollingnews

UPDATE:

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone; clip from RTE Investigates: Creches – Behind Closed Doors which was broadcast on July 24 last

On Wednesday, July 24 last, RTÉ’s Investigates broadcast a report about the standards of care at the Hyde & Seek Childcare company.

The report, called Creches – Behind Closed Doors, exposed failings in the standard of care provided to children in a number of the company’s branches across Dublin.

A Garda investigation into some issues raised in the report was launched after the broadcast.

Further to this…

Aoife Hegarty, of RTÉ, reports today that concerns about the company were raised with the Minister for Children Katherine Zappone more than a year ago.

Ms Hegarty reports:

Correspondence obtained by Fianna Fáil TD Anne Rabbitte shows Minister Zappone received a copy of a complaint forwarded to the Child & Family Agency TUSLA from a parent regarding the Hyde & Seek crèche at Glasnevin on Dublin’s northside.

The new purpose-built facility operated for 14 months without registration.

…The complaint from the parent, which detailed a series of issues with child-to-staff ratios and other safety concerns, was first shared with Minister for Finance Paschal Donohue, who subsequently forwarded it to Minister Zappone.

Minister Zappone acknowledged the crèche was not registered with TUSLA, but said it would be inappropriate for her to interfere in the agency’s ongoing investigations.

Zappone alerted to concerns at Hyde & Seek Childcare more than a year ago (Aoife Hegarty, RTE)

Watch the RTE Prime Time investigation back in full here

Yesterday: Misleading Survivors And The Dáil

UPDATE:

A day after the RTE Investigates documentary was broadcast…

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone and former UN Special Rapporteur Pablo de Greiff

“I have previously relayed my commitment to the House to inviting the UN special rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence, Mr. Pablo de Greiff, to come to Ireland.

I believe he can assist us in our endeavours to establish the truth and advise us on how best to move forward and deal with this part of our history.

Arrangements are at an advanced stage and I expect an invitation to be issued to Mr. de Greiff in the coming days.”

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone, February 13, 2019.

This afternoon…

Via The Coalition of Mother And Baby home Survivors (CMABS):

An Administrative Officer in the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) has flatly contradicted statements made by Minister Katherine Zappone in the Dáil that arrangements to invite the UN Special Rapporteur for the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantee of non-recurrence to Ireland, were at an “advanced stage” and later that she was “… working with my colleague the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade to arrange this invitation.”

In response to a Freedom of Information request, Liam Doolan of the Mother and Baby homes investigation, replied that:

“…no communication was made between the actors listed [Katherine Zappone and the Dept of CYA] and Mr. Pablo de Greiff”.

Doolan’s letter completely undermines the clear statement that Minister Zappone made in the Dáil on February 13,  2018

The Freedom of Information request also revealed that no invitation was ever issued to Pablo de Greiff despite Minister Zappone making repeated references to such an invitation for several months from as early as the beginning of June 2017 until as late as February 13, 2018. On 24.Jan.2018, Minister Zappone in a written answer in the Dáil informed Denise Mitchell TD that:

“…In addition, the Government has agreed to invite Mr. Pablo de Greiff, UN Special Rapporteur, to assist Ireland in our response to issues related to former Mother and Baby homes and I am working with my colleague the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade to arrange this invitation”

Previously: Missing A ‘Defining Moment’

Earlier: DNA Tests And Tuam [Updated]

From top: Minister for Children Katherine Zappone; Yesterday’s Irish Times

Yesterday, it was reported that “all children” going through childcare proceedings will be appointed guardians under the new Child Care Amendment Bill.

On Twitter, Child Law, Disability and Human Rights lawyer Gareth Noble writes:

‘Sadly the headline (above) is inaccurate. Lots of children will NOT have a voice. The new proposed Bill dilutes the rights and participation of children.

The new ‘service’ may serve some interests better ie., Tusla and abusive/neglectful parents but it won’t be vulnerable children.

A Guardian continues to be addressed as a ‘witness’ who may be called to give evidence by a party to the proceedings.

Can you imagine Tusla wanting to call a Guardian who wishes to make recommendations that Tusla would rather not implement? It is absolutely unconstitutional.

The court Appointed Guardian ad litem is said to be independent but the discharge of their functions is strictly limited to Ministerial control and applications that they will be forced into making to the Minister for Children.

At the moment Guardians have a dual function: views of the child and offer an assessment as to best interests. The new Bill appears to dilute the importance of the second of these functions.

What about children who can’t express their wishes or choose not to. Are they forgotten?

If we see children as rightsholders (as we voted for in a referendum) how is it that social workers and parents will have automatic right to legal representation and full participatory rights but that the voice of the child will will have to apply to the Minister for the same.

With the very greatest respect, EVERY single thing Minister Katherine Zappone says in this piece is factually and legally wrong.

I’m trying to work out if she knows this or simply being fed these inaccuracies to regurgitate.

Either way, it’s such a setback for vulnerable children.’

Guardians ad litem to be made available in all childcare cases (Sorcha Pollack, Irish Times)

Meanwhile…

HIQA has criticised Tusla for not notifying gardaí in a timely manner of suspected crimes of neglect, physical and sexual abuse in the Dublin South West/Kildare/West Wicklow area.

The independent watchdog said the Tusla area concerned failed seriously to comply with all four standards assessed during last April’s inspection.

It said that child protection and welfare referrals were not consistently screened within 24 hours, a standard set out in the Child and Family Agency’s own business processes.

Tusla criticised for failures over crime reporting (RTÉ)

This morning.

Further to last night’s RTÉ Investigates which revealed a pattern of disturbing behaviour and practices at Hyde and Seek crèches, including fire-safety breaches and rough handling of children….

Ms Zappone told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland that she had been deeply upset by the revelations and she urged parents to “listen to their gut” if they were concerned about their child’s care.

She was particularly concerned that despite regulations and improvements that “this appalling behaviour is happening.”

However, when asked if she would be seeking the closure of the Hyde & Seek chain, she said that as Minister she did not want to say anything that would “inhibit the process.”

Latest: Katherine Zappone shocked by Hyde and Seek creche revelations (irish Examiner)

Yesterday: Staying In Tonight?

Meanwhile…

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone

This morning.

Conall Ó Fátharta of The Irish Examiner has obtained a copy of a report by the Collaborative Forum on Mother and Baby Homes, set up last year by Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone.

The forum presented its report to Ms Zappone last December but she has declined to publish it citing advice from the Attorney General.

Via The Irish Examiner:

In a lengthy section on information and identity rights, the report states that Tusla representatives informed it that it assesses the likelihood of harm being caused to wider birth families by the release of personal information to an applicant.

In exchanges with the forum, Tusla representatives indicated that identity and personal information applications are assessed in part by reference to the level of harm acceding to such requests may cause,” states the report. “Neither the statutory basis for such a criterion, nor the nature of how harm is determined, was clear to forum members.”

The forum states its belief that since Tusla began taking ownership of the files of former adoption agencies in 2014, it has been pursuing “a practice of withholding identity and personal information from applicants detained as children across various institutions on the basis that to release this information, could cause harm to the wider family members of the applicant”.

In a statement, Tusla said that in the absence of any specific legislation to regulate information and tracing services, it can only “lawfully release information relating to other persons [e.g. birth parents] with their expressed consent.”

Tusla considers damage release of personal information can cause (Irish Examiner)

Rollingnews

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Ms Zappone said she had listened to the concerns of adopted people and the changes, in her view, balance the right to privacy with the right to identity.

The new law, which will move to the committee stage in the Seanad today, has been delayed because of concerns about the privacy of natural or birth parents in cases where an adopted person is looking for information.

It is now proposed that the child and family agency Tusla would contact birth parents in relation to any request for information and, if they object to its release, the Adoption Authority of Ireland would make a decision.

Zappone – Adoption law giving access to records ‘a step forward’ (RTÉ)

Mairead Enright writes:

It is not at all clear how adopted people’s rights will be safeguarded by the above process, especially given Tusla’s poor history

This proposal is completely out of step with European norms. It is also a disproportionate measure which assumes adopted people are a “threat” to their natural parents’ wellbeing.

Once the new legislation is passed, the Attorney General is proposing that people adopted in future should have automatic access to their full file once they reach adulthood.

So these are discriminatory provisions affecting people adopted in the era of the laundries and the Mother and Baby Homes.

Together with proposals under the Retention of Records Bill 2019, which will seal testimonies of records of child abuse for 75 years, this legislation shows that the state is not willing to face up to the past.

If anything, this imposition of state control reinscribes the shaming and silencing mechanisms used against natural mothers under Ireland’s regime of forced (and often illegal) adoption.

People must have access, at a minimum, to their unredacted early life records *and* to their birth certs (which are already public records).

Natural mothers should also be able to access their state records.

Amendments to the Bill could also be used to establish meaningful information, matching and tracing services and an independent archive of relevant records.

There is a lot more wrong with the Bill, but the basic assumption that this category of adopted people should be quarantined in this way is highly objectionable and should be resisted.

Oh and before the AG says “but the Constitution”, there is no absolute constitutional right to anonymity. The right to privacy of natural mothers must be balanced against the right to identity.

And anyway framing this as “mothers vs adopted people” isn’t the point. Adults are capable of navigating this information regime, and the state should assist them to do so, not continue to frustrate them.

Meanwhile…