Audit of Child Protection Services now Required – Ó Laoghaire
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Children Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD has called on Minister Katherine Zappone to seek a full audit in to the Child Protection Services of the state.
He was speaking during the course of a Topical Issue debate, regarding the revelations contained within the report issued by Dr Geoffrey Shannon and the revelations by RTÉ investigates.
The Cork South-Central TD said:
“The shocking revelations outlined in the report carried out by Dr Shannon and the revelations contained in the RTÉ Investigates Programme have appalled the nation.
“In my view, it illustrates a broken, dysfunctional system. We cannot have periodic expressions of outrage and then move on; this time, we need to take concrete action to make sure it happens again.
“Central to this is immediately implementing the recommendations made by Dr Shannon, such as implementing real out of hours cover, and child protection training for more Gardaí.
“We must also go beyond simply dealing with these immediate issues.
“This was an excellent piece of work, and very comprehensive. However, it relates to a very discrete area of child protection, specifically the exercise of Section 12 of the Childcare Act. We have in recent months and years come across issue after issue, with children being put at risk, coming up in relation to Túsla – public confidence in Túsla is very low.
“I believe we now, are compelled to look at the overall child protection picture. I believe we would benefit greatly from the audit that was carried out by Dr Shannon, being carried out on the whole child protection system.
“I am asking the Government to appoint a leading, independent expert to head-up such an audit, a much broader audit.
“Such an audit could examine every aspect of child protection structures, including issues related to accountability structures, leadership, management, policies and the culture of Túsla and child protection structure. Such a commission should report with recommendations within 12 months of establishment.
“There are enormous challenges in this entire area. I believe we need to totally reimagine, and overhaul our child protection structures. An intensive audit can bring accountability, can shine a light on where else in Túsla, or elsewhere, that children are being failed or put at risk. It can highlight where weaknesses exist in the system as a whole , and with strong recommendations, can give us a roadmap on how best to deliver a child protect system worthy of the name.
“In 2012, the Irish people voted to put children’s rights on a constitutional basis. It is time that our Child Protection structures reflected that. The Minister needs to commission this audit.”