JULY 18TH 2017


One in Four today welcomes the publication of Ombudsman Peter Tyndall’s Report on Tusla, the Child and Family agency.  “Taking Stock” criticises Tusla for serious failings in it response to adults who make complaints about their experience of sexual abuse in childhood.  The Report reveals long delays by Tusla in dealing with allegations of historic abuse, instances of Tusla social workers lacking empathy and a failure to follow its own procedures for investigating allegations and for keeping records.

Executive Director Maeve Lewis says: “We are very pleased that an independent investigation now confirms the difficulties we experience in supporting adult clients to engage with Tusla regarding their sexual abuse in childhood. We notify Tusla of all allegations of child sexual abuse made by our clients.  Regardless of how long ago the abuse happens, it is highly possible that the person who abused our client may still be abusing children. 

When our clients choose to make a full statement about their abuse to Tusla, there are often very long delays or even a refusal to meet the survivor.   Indeed I sometimes have the impression that the social workers simply want to close the case as quickly as possible.

 Some of our clients complain that when they are interviewed by Tusla social workers they are treated in an insensitive and sceptical manner which causes further distress.

I am also very concerned that the majority of the cases we refer to Tusla come back with a determination of “unfounded”, even when we have reason to believe that the allegation is very substantial.

I accept that in the past number of years Tusla has made a serious effort to address these concerns, and that specialist teams to deal with retrospective allegations are now in place in most Tusla areas.  There are examples across the country of really excellent services.  However, we still encounter major problems in other areas where Tusla staff do not even seem to work within official Tusla procedures.

At core, this is all about protecting children from sexual harm.  After all the revelations of the past decade, we should have one of the best child protection systems in the world.  I understand that resourcing is a big issue. Irish social workers regularly deal with case loads that are double those of their UK colleagues and that needs to be urgently addressed.

Until we have a child protection service that can consistently assess risk to children and respond to keep them safe, then the lives of another generation of Irish children will be blighted by sexual abuse.

ENDSFOR COMMENT: Maeve Lewis, Executive Director  087 7584080