Tag Archives: Tusla

This morning.

The Seanad.

Minister for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration Roderic O’Gorman is speaking on his bill that will allow the Mother and Baby Homes Commission’s archive to be sealed for 30 years (except for a database on mothers and children detained in 11 institutions which it wants to give to TUSLA).

Minister O’Gorman said:

“As colleagues will know, access to information is a recurring and priority concern for those directly involved in the Mother and Baby Home institutions

“This legislation…urgent measure in terms of preserving valuable databases and records…speak to that very concern.

“I understand that there are genuine expectations that this database should enable additional information available to residents.

“In that regard it is essential to understand that Tusla is still bound by the continuing significant constitutional constraints in terms of access to information.

“This can only be addressed by future legislation which is something to which I am absolutely committed.

“I appreciate that some stakeholders have argued that the database and related records should be transferred to a body other than Tusla.

“The rationale for specifying Tusla as the recipient of the database is that it already has statutory responsibility for adoption tracing services under the Adoption Act of 2010 and already dedicates substantial resources and expertise to carrying out tracing functions.

“Crucially it currently holds the originals of many of the institutional records. Legally this enables the maximum value to be obtained from the database in the immediate term while comprehensive information and tracing legislation is being put in place.”

“A transfer to any statutory body, other than Tusla, such as the Adoption Authority of Ireland, would mean that two different statutory bodies withholds the same records with Tusla holding the originals and the AAI holding the database and associated copies. Such a duplication would inefficient and would lead to confusion.”

“Tusla will be fulfilling an important…safeguarding this database in the immediate term. The appropriate body to retain such records in the long term will be subject of further consultation and consideration in the course of bringing forward new legislative proposals for enhancing information and tracing services. I will of course seek further engagement with stakeholders as I advance these deliberations.

“Due to the urgent need to pass this legislation before the commission is dissolved, I appreciate there has been limited time to review the proposals.

“The requirement for pre-legislative scrutiny was waived by the House Business Committee at my request. However, I hope with the recent briefings I provided, as well as the information outlined today, I hope these have been helpful to you all.”

Watch here

More as we get it.

Last night: Sealing Their Fate

Pat Rabbitte, Chairman of Tusla. The child and family agency insist alleged abusers must be informed of any complaints and the identity of those making them

Yesterday.

Via The Irish Times

Therapy services are no longer asking child sex abuse victims to disclose their abusers’ names due to a Tusla policy mandating that alleged abusers must be informed of any complaints.

Under current guidelines, therapists and victim-support groups must disclose reports of child sex abuse, including historic cases, to the child and family agency, along with the identities of the complainants and alleged abuser.

Tusla policy is to then inform the alleged abuser of the complaint and to begin an assessment. This is the case even if the complainant does not want an investigation.

…Tusla cited a “complex legislative space” and said court decisions and “natural justice” mean it must inform alleged abusers of complaints.

It said this approach will not change under a revised policy framework which is due to come into effect next year.

Meanwhile…

The counselling service One In Four stopped asking clients the name of their alleged abusers in November 2019. “It’s just too dangerous,” said executive director Maeve Lewis.

Cliona Sadlier, head of Rape Crisis Network Ireland, said one of the first questions clients ask is “if I come in to you do you have to report me?

Anyone?

Previously: Tusla And The Silencing

Tusla policy ‘endangering’ victims of child sex abuse, say therapists (Irish Times)

Pic: Tusla

Minister for Children Affairs Katherine Zappone ( above) and Tusla are heavily criticised in the leaked report.

Yesterday.

The Sunday Independent revealed details of a leaked report by the Collaborative Forum on Mother and Baby Home. A report outgoing Minister for Children Affairs Katherine Zappone had refused to publish.

It detailed episodes of mixed race children who were subjected to “racial profiling” and ‘stripped of their identities’.

Also:

Tusla, which controls access to birth records from mother and baby homes and adoption societies, is accused of withholding personal information from applicants detained as children across various institutions on the grounds that to release it “could cause harm to the wider family members”.

The outgoing Minister for Children is criticised for transferring records from mother and baby homes to the child and family agency as “astonishing”, “regressive” and “insensitive”.

The “levels of anger, frustration and discontent” towards Tusla from survivors trying to access their records has “escalated to record numbers”, the report says. Their experiences of trying to find out who they are have been “damaging and re-traumatising” for the most vulnerable survivors.

The Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill 2016, which is much criticised in the report, fell by the wayside shortly before the change of government.

The legislation attempted to address the rights of adoptees to their identity, while balancing the rights of natural parents to not be contacted. In the end, it could not be done. The minister was advised of constitutional issues with allowing adopted people unrestricted access to their birth information and attempts at reaching consensus failed.

The spirit of inclusivity in which the collaborative forum was founded has given way to feelings of exclusion.

Racial profiling, segregation like Apartheid – shocking report reveals racist abuse in Mother and Baby homes (Maeve Sheehan, Sunday Independent)

Last week: Tusla And The Silencing

Anon writes:

We are a community group gravely concerned about the UN stating in 2019 that children in Ireland are silenced when they allege sexual abuse.

90% of 3,000 allegations came to nothing in 2018.

Tusla, the family courts and the Gardai are failing to protect our children. Please share this infographic.

Previously: Tusla on Broadsheet


Dr Conor O’Mahony, the Government’s special rapporteur on child protection, Katherine Zappone, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs

This morning

Further to revelations yesterday that people under investigation for child abuse, including sexual abuse, will be permitted to personally interview their alleged victims.

The guidelines, according to Dr Conor Mahony,  who was last year appointed by Minister for Children Katherine Zappone as the Government’s Special Rapporteur on Child Protection, are a product of the “imperfect legal environment” Tusla operates in.

Via The Irish Times:

Dr O’Mahony, a child law expert, said the policy to permit the cross-examination of a complainant is a “position driven by litigation and not by Tusla policy decisions”.

He added previous court rulings had made it clear Tusla had “significant discretion” in determining how an alleged victim might be cross-examined by the accused.

Social workers must “stress test” allegations when interviewing complainants, the guidelines state, including by asking if there may be an “alternative explanation” or “misinterpretation on their part” in relation to the allegations.

If direct questioning by the accused is judged inappropriate, other forms of “stress testing” should be considered, including allowing the suspect to write out questions to be put to the complainant, allowing their solicitor to question the complainant, or allowing the suspect to ask questions via videolink.

Call for legal reforms around Tusla child abuse investigations (irish Times)

Meanwhile

A petition calling for the immediate withdraw of these plans.

Sign here.

Yesterday: A Final Betrayal

From top: Katherine Zappone, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs and Pat Rabbitte, chair of Tusla,  the child and family agency

This morning.

Via The Irish Times:

People under investigation for child abuse, including sexual abuse, will be permitted to personally interview their alleged victims in certain circumstances under new Tusla investigatory procedures.

…If direct questioning is judged inappropriate, other forms of “stress testing” should be considered, including allowing the suspect to write out questions to be put to the complainant, allowing their solicitor to question the complainant or allowing the suspect to ask questions via video link.

In some cases a suspect may be allowed to be in the room while questions are put by a social worker, the guidelines state. “Consider using a screen to separate the complainant or witness who is being questioned.

Tusla staff are instructed that the identity of the alleged victim should be disclosed to the suspect at an early stage, even in cases where the “complainant is at serious risk from the [alleged abuser].”

Meanwhile…

Last October, Fianna Fáil TD Anne Rabbitte asked Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone several questions about Tusla’s new Child Abuse Substantiation Procedures, including when they would be made public, how the procedures would work and how they would be managed by Tusla. Ms Zappone said she would ask Tusla to contact Ms Rabbitte directly.

Alleged child abusers to be allowed interview complainants (Conor Gallagher, Jack Power, The Irish Times)

Rollingnews

Update: Yes, They’re Serious

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:

This morning.

The Public Accounts Committee heard that there has been non-compliance of procurement contracts worth €5.4million at Tusla.

Sinn Féin TD David Cullinane asked for PAC to write back to Tusla and ask for a breakdown of the €5.4million.

He suggested PAC specifically ask how many contracts were involved, why they were non-compliant and he suggested PAC ask for a report on each incident.

He added:

“Just to make sure that they know that we’re watching this because there’s no point in us just noting it which we do meeting after meeting and the C&AG [Comptroller and Auditor General] notes it. There doesn’t seem to be, I’ve said this time and again, there doesn’t seem to be no real sanction other than they have to watch, that they have to abide by proper competition rules and so on.”

“In any event, non-compliance in its totality, year on year, is a huge amount of money – when you add in all the departments. So I’m recommending everyone on them when it comes up, we write back, we want a report – and broken down by how many contracts, because the €5.4million may be one contract in this case or it may be multiple contracts, multiple and the reason for each and every one as to why it was non-compliant.”

Earlier: How Much?


Newstalk journalist Eoghan Murphy tweetz:

Tusla has been notified of 116 children being seriously injured in childcare services this year, along with five children going missing and two deaths – one in a childcare centre and one after being transferred to hospital. Breakdown of details [above], released under FoI.

Tusla records large rise in number of children seriously injured while in childcare services (Eoghan Murphy, Newstalk)