Tag Archives: Tusla

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)

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)