Minister for Children James Reilly has said we must learn from the four reports published earlier this week into the deaths of young people who were either in State care or known to social services.
In his first appearance in his new ministerial role before the Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children yesterday, Dr Reilly was asked about the report published by the National Review Panel on Wednesday.
He said we must “learn from these tragedies so that we don’t continue to repeat the same mistakes”. “It’s obvious reading the report that there were a raft of things that seemed to be looked at in isolation rather than joined-up and that there were delays in reports and information changing hands,” he said. “There needs to be more cohesion and there certainly has been action taken in the department to correct many of the things that are highlighted in the report. That is not to say that there isn’t room for further improvement. There certainly is a need for more to be done in this area,” he said.
HSE and neglect
Referring to one of the deaths covered in the report, that of “Luke” (real name Danny Talbot), who died of an overdose at the age of 19 while in State aftercare services, Senator Jillian van Turnhout noted the report found the “high threshold for tolerance by the HSE of information concerning child neglect for the first nine years of Luke’s life was unacceptable”.
She said while there are a lot of agencies involved in the care of children, the “difficulty again and again” is that these resources are not connected.
As regards the child and family agency, Tusla, Ms Turnhout said targets needed to be published to ensure its progress could be adequately assessed.
Responding to a question posed by Fianna Fáil's Robert Troy about Tusla not being able to operate within its budget, Dr Reilly said the agency was projecting an expenditure level of about €23 million ahead of allocation.
He said the agency was spending about €34 million on legal costs, a sum he said was “far too high”, adding that a range of reforms were being implemented to get value in this area.