Tusla head learned of foster home case in 2011

Gordon Jeyes says he is to see the reports drafted on the allegations of abuse

When chief executive of Tusla Gordon Jeyes learned of the ‘Grace’ case he was told that the matter was being investigated. File photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

When chief executive of Tusla Gordon Jeyes learned of the ‘Grace’ case he was told that the matter was being investigated. File photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

 

Gordon Jeyes, the chief executive of Tusla, the child and family agency, has said he first learned of the allegations of abuse at a foster home in the southeast in 2011, when he was taking up his new position. At the time he was told that the matter was being investigated.

In 2014 his agency was sent a briefing note on the matter by the Health Service Executive (HSE) and a senior executive of Tusla met a senior executive with the HSE to discuss the case.

However, Mr Jeyes said, he has yet to see the two reports that have been drafted on the issue, despite knowing that some of the staff involved transferred from the HSE to Tusla upon the latter’s establishment.

He said that, given the children-first policy in relation to such matters, he was surmising that if there were any concerns about risks being attached to any staff members who had been transferred to Tusla, he would have been told by now. He said he had sought the names of the core people involved but had not been given them.

Mr Jeyes said members of the Tusla staff had been interviewed by Conor Devine, when he was producing his report on the matter, but these people were involved in administration and such roles.

The Tusla chief executive said he had contacted Tony O’Brien, the director general of the HSE, on Wednesday, and has been promised that further information will be supplied. However, as the Garda Síochána were investigating the case, he did not think he should see the Devine or the Resilience Ireland reports into the case unless there were “real concerns” that a member of staff with Tusla constituted a risk.

Tusla has liability for all historical child abuse claims made against the HSE but the HSE has responsibility for disability care.

Foster home

‘Grace’, a woman with severe intellectual disability and who is non-verbal and who is alleged to have suffered abuse at the foster home, was not removed from the placement until 13 years after the HSE had ceased all new placements there due to the alleged abuse concerns. Any settlement with her will be proportionally shared between Tusla and the HSE, Mr Jeyes said.

He said it would be “shocking” if it did emerge that there were any concerns about any member of staff at Tusla and he did not expect this to be the case given that he had not been informed of any such concern up to now.

Mr Jeyes said Ireland was “heavy on process” when cases like Grace’s came to light, and the process took too long, and as a result was “not just”. He said other historical instances of abuse might now emerge given the controversy over the case.