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Tusla discovery of unidentified files deeply worrying – McLellan

30 April, 2015

Sinn Féin TD and Children Spokesperson Sandra McLellan has described the discovery of hundreds of Tusla files and Garda referrals as “deeply worrying”.

Teachta McLellan said:

“This evening’s discovery of unidentified files and unacknowledged Garda referrals in the Laois- Offaly area is cause for alarm. In my own constituency of Cork, we have been confronted with news of negligence on numerous occasions as recently as last month with the publishing of a  HIQA report into child protection and welfare services in the Cork which found that more than one in four children, who had been the subject of a referral, did not have an allocated social worker.

“It’s well known that social services are under enormous pressures due to shortages of staff and resources. I’m afraid today’s news is symptomatic of a wider problem in the system. Children need to be given priority when it comes to legal protection and care. A fully-resourced child protection and child welfare system is needed. 

“I’ve put it to Minister Reilly on many occasions that we have a serious shortage of social workers in and professional psychiatrists in the state. The staffing shortages need to be dealt with as of yesterday. Children suffer long term consequences when delayed with the appropriate care. Therefore, early intervention is key in order that cases do not graduate in severity to high risk. 

“What we are witnessing today are further revelations of Tusla’s challenges with regards to standards and best practice in the welfare system. It’s a positive sign that Tusla has been forthcoming about the shortcomings. The implications for those individuals, whose files have been misplaced and which are now found, are potentially serious if at high risk. 

“A root and branch exercise in investigation now needs to happen as to why such a catastrophic mistake like this could happen. As the ISPCC have stated, Tusla needs to put the same review systems into place for all social work departments so that nothing comparable happens again in the future.” 

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