Department’s response to Adams’ query ‘incorrect’, says Tusla

Department of Children denies providing incorrect details to parliamentary questions

Tusla officials have accused the Department of Children and Youth Affairs  of providing “incorrect” information in answers to parliamentary questions. Photograph: Alan Betson

Tusla officials have accused the Department of Children and Youth Affairs of providing “incorrect” information in answers to parliamentary questions. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

Senior officials in the Child and Family Agency, Tusla, have accused the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) of providing “incorrect” information in answers to parliamentary questions (PQs), and of editing information it provides for PQs before issuing it “without being cleared by us”.

Internal Tusla emails, released to The Irish Times under the Freedom of Information Act, indicate frustration among management after information it provided on foot of a PQ from Gerry Adams, TD, appears to have been ignored in the answer issued by the department to Mr Adams.

In May, Mr Adams asked Minister for Children Katherine Zappone, “the position regarding the review of the governance, leadership and management arrangements within Tusla” undertaken by the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) in 2016.

Clarification

In her written answer on May 9th, Ms Zappone says Hiqa advises the review “is still ongoing and hence the findings have not yet been finalised. As the review is still in process, it would be inappropriate for me to comment further on the matter at this time”.

However, Tusla told the department on May 5th, when asked for its response to the PQ: “The review was completed at the end of 2016 and on 3rd February . . . Tusla was provided with a copy . . . Tusla has subsequently sought clarification from Hiqa on the status of the final report and is seeking its publication without delay”.

Several days later, in an email to Tusla’s chief executive Fred McBride and the agency’s director of quality assurance, Brian Lee, general manager of the chief executive’s office, Madeleine Halpin, describes the information issued to Mr Adams as “incorrect”.

“I believe we should seek to amend the record both with the Minister and with Hiqa as the governance review is not ongoing even where the report is not published.

Concerns

“This also further highlights concerns which have previously been raised re: Tusla drafting responses to PQs . . . which are then edited by DCYA and issued without being cleared by us.”

On June 1st, Ms Halpin emailed Fergal Lynch, secretary general of the department, telling him Mr McBride has asked her to forward again the original response issued by Tusla and the actual response issued to Mr Adams.

Mr Lynch, in response, said the department had also sought information from Hiqa which had said the review was “ongoing”.

“I am satisfied the information supplied by the Minister in her recent responses to PQs is therefore correct.”