Tag Archives: Tusla

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)

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)

From Tusla’s Quarterly Service Performance and Activity Report for the first three months of 2019

A quarterly report from Tusla – for the first three months of 2019 – states there were 699 new inquiries made to the agency’s Adoption Information and Tracing Service during that period of time.

These are inquiries made by adopted people, birth parents, adoptive parents, siblings
of adopted people and other birth relatives and people raised in long-term foster care.

The 699 figure represents a 173 per cent increase when compared to the first quarter of 2018.

The same report states there was also a rise in tracing applications made with 291 new tracing applications received by Tusla in the first quarter of this year.

In regards to the length of time people who have made an application have to wait for personal information and/or the allocation of a social worker, it varies.

Those seeking personal information under GDPR legislation have had to wait anything from six weeks to six months, when Tusla’s own target is eight weeks.

Those waiting to be allocated a social worker, as part of a priority 1 application – where a birth parent is older than 70 – have had to wait anything up to 14 months, as opposed to Tusla’s target of three months or less.

Those waiting to be allocated a social worker, as part of a priority 2 application – where the applicant has a non-life limiting medical condition and/or were previously in state care – have had to wait anything from six weeks to six months, as opposed to Tusla’s target of six months or less.

Those waiting to be allocated a social worker for all other types of applications have had to wait anything between three months and more than three years, compared to Tusla’s target of 12 months or less.

The report can be read in full here

Tusla struggles to cope with adoption record demands (Conall Ó Fátharta, Irish Examiner)

Previously: Who Do You Think You Are?

Conflating And Confusing Privacy And Secrecy

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…

Garda whistleblower, Former Sgt Maurice McCabe and wife Lorraine McCabe at Dublin Castle last summer during the Disclosures Tribunal.

This afternoon.

Whistleblower Maurice McCabe, who left An Garda Síochána last year, has reportedly agreed a settlement for an undisclosed sum in his legal action against the force and Tusla.

Michael Clifford, of the Irish Examiner, reports:

The settlement came after weeks of negotiations between the legal teams for Mr McCabe and the Sate agencies over the 11 separate actions brought by the former garda sergeant and his family.

The actions were based on how Mr McCabe was dealt with in the aftermath of making complaints of malpractice in the force in 2008.

Maurice McCabe settles legal action against Garda Commissioner and Tusla for undisclosed sum (Breakingnews.ie)

Previously: Maurice McCabe on Broadsheet

Disclosures Tribunal on Broadsheet

Rollingnews



From top: Interim CEO of Tusla Pat Smyth; Labour TD Sean Sherlock; Ian Elliott, interim Safeguarding Manager at Scouting Ireland; Katherine Zappone

On February 27 last, the Minister for Children Katherine Zappone published a four-page letter which had been sent from Tusla to Scouting Ireland on February 18.

It followed Ms Zappone announcing last December that Scouting Ireland had identified 212 alleged abusers and 317 alleged victims of abuse and this figure was likely to rise.

Tusla’s partially redacted letter referred to three lives cases, saying:

Gaps arose in three situations. In one case on cub camp, a child exposed himself and sexually assaulted children in the tent.

In another report, a child was exposing himself and behaving in a sexually in-appropriate way in front of his camp mates and in a third case, at cub camp a child was acting out a forceful sex act on other children in the tent who were afraid to sleep for fear of being assaulted themselves.

These live case examples highlight a number of areas of poor practice and have left children exposed to risk of harm.

In addition the practice by SI personnel, redacted, as Head of Safeguarding to interview children in the circumstances described above is very concerning.

The letter also criticised that a helpline set up for people to receive allegations in relation to Scouting Ireland was being manned by Scouting Ireland personnel.

It also made eight child protection recommendations to Scouting Ireland – including that Scouting Ireland should consider “the viability of continuing with overnight trips given the concerns outlined”.

Further to this…

Members of Tusla and Scouting Ireland answered questions at a meeting of the Oireachtas Committee on Children and Youth Affairs this morning and this afternoon.

This morning, interim CEO of Tusla Pat Smyth told the committee that the letter was never meant to be made public.

In addition, Labour TD Sean Sherlock asked Ian Elliott, interim Safeguarding Manager at Scouting Ireland, about an inter-agency meeting which took place two days before Ms Zappone made this letter public – on February 25.

Mr Elliott said the meeting had been initiated by Scouting Ireland in November and it was an attempt to bring An Garda Siochana, Tusla and Scouting Ireland together – so Scouting Ireland could “actively review” the practice, co-operation and collaboration of the agencies and to give them a chance to request any further information from Scouting Ireland.

Mr Elliott said Tusla’s letter, which Scouting Ireland received on Friday, February 22, was discussed at the meeting of the February 25.

He said:

“I raised it by means of two questions which were then answered by the two agencies and in their answers, Tusla’s representatives, made reference to the letter. I actually knew that the two senior managers who were there had been copied into the letter.

“I didn’t permit too much discussion about the content of the letter…An Garda was there and I didn’t feel it was appropriate for that to happen.”

It shocked me because I thought, well, you know, on one hand, we were receiving this letter, and on the other hand, well, I’m talking to people directly and individuals copied into this letter – they’re saying ‘no, everything’s fine, we have no concerns, we have no problems, no difficulties with what you’re doing and how you’re doing it’.”

Mr Sherlock put it to Mr Elliott that when Ms Zappone published the letter two days after this meeting, on February 27, “the bombshell was dropped” publicly – despite the issues apparently having been “addressed” at the meeting of February 25.

Mr Elliott agreed and said “that’s why the meeting was set up”.

He also said that he spoke with members of An Garda Siochana “at a very senior level” to ask if they were “absolutely satisfied” with how Scouting Ireland was operating and the “quality of information” that was going to the gardai.

Mr Elliott said: “I was assured that was the case.”

He added: “I don’t understand what has happened. If I could mention this. I think it’s important. If you’re going to criticise the practice of an individual in relation to safeguarding, then you need to have solid evidence.

“You need to actually examine either the case record or talk to the individuals involved in the practice… but none of that happened.”

Mr Elliott went on to tell Mr Sherlock that no case record has been examined by Tusla and no staff member of Scouting Ireland has been interviewed by Tusla.

Mr Sherlock said Mr Elliott’s comments have “thrown up a whole new can of worms”.

The TD said: “We had Tusla earlier on and we had a version of events, we have Scouting Ireland’s interpretation of events now and I just think it throws up a whole set of new questions…And there are now questions to be asked of department officials and the minister I think in respect of the matter arising out of the evidence we’ve just heard here.”

Watch the committee’s proceedings live here

Legacy of historic child sexual abuse in scouts ‘very painful truth’ (Jack Power, The Irish Times)

Claire McGettrick tweetz:

A tiny sample of the pages which Tusla redacted in my adoption file before sending to me. I’m happily reunited with my mother for over 25 years, so who are they trying to ‘protect’ here? Adopted people are being left behind in so-called modern Ireland #EndSecrecyNow #Stand4Truth

Anyone?