Zappone ‘extremely disappointed’ with tribunal findings
Tusla, which was heavily criticised, has begun a ‘HR process’ into its handling of cases
Minister for Children Katherine Zappone was reacting to the damning report by Mr Justice Peter Charleton.
Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, has offered a “sincere apology” to Sgt Maurice McCabe and his family, saying that its handling of false allegations against him had been “exceptionally poor”.
However, it said it was “confident” that changes introduced since the blunders in the McCabe case would lead to improved services and better results for children and parents, though they would take “time to embed”.
“We wish to reiterate our sincere apology to Sgt McCabe and each member of his family for the impact Tusla’s errors had on them,” said the agency, in its second statement of the day of the tribunal’s report.
“Tusla is sincerely sorry that its standards did not meet those which could be reasonably expected by Sgt McCabe and his family. Tusla also wishes to apologise to others who were affected by the errors that were made.”
A HR examination of the management of the cases was expected to “be completed” shortly, adding that the agency expected that “staff involved in any inquiry or tribunal would participate and fully co-operate”.
Detailed reforms were introduced after the blunders to improve case management and the appointment of a dedicated specialist team to manage historical abuse allegations.
In addition, increased supervision of staff involved in such cases has been brought into force, along with more staff training and intensified auditing of cases in search of mistakes.
Better IT systems have been put in place to prevent a repetition of the difficulties found in the McCabe case where files were created in error, and others were not updated.
Now, Tusla staff have a “robust, secure information and file management system”, where information is held in standardised formats, and collated, managed and shared at local, regional and national levels.
“When staff do make serious errors, staff and the agency need to take responsibility for these errors and work to ensure changes are made so that practice is improved.
“Retrospective cases of abuse are particularly challenging and Tusla has consistently and publicly stated that to support the agency in meeting its obligations, the area needs legislative reform,” it said.
Meanwhile, Minister for Children Katherine Zappone said she was “extremely disappointed” by the sharply worded criticisms of Tusla levelled by the Disclosures Tribunal.
“I am extremely disappointed to note that the tribunal found Tusla slow to respond to the public request for co-operation by the tribunal, and other criticisms about Tusla’s engagement with the tribunal,” said Ms Zappone.
“I will be asking the board of Tusla to respond to this and the other matters raised in the report.”
Poor management of historical allegations of abuse, records management, and inadequate supervision of social workers were “issues of great public concern”, she said.