Communication and Collaboration must improve if we want to avoid repeat of Mary Case – Fianna Fáil

Published on: 29 March 2017

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Disability, Margaret Murphy O’Mahony has said that the report into the handling today of the Mary Case has confirmed that serious flaws exist in how the State cares for vulnerable people who reach the age of majority.

Deputy Murphy O’Mahony went on to say that the review of the events around the “Mary” case demonstrates the potential risks that face young people who will require supported residential care on reaching adulthood when they are transitioning from state foster care into adult disability services.

“We need to call a spade a spade: the State failed ‘Mary’ by allowing her to stay in the same foster home where retrospective allegations of abuse had been made against her foster father.“Like in too ma[ny other situations, collaboration and communication within, and between, State agencies was poor, and in many cases, negligent.

“Above all else, this case demonstrates the State’s lack of preparedness and awareness for the specific needs of people with disabilities.

“Every time a case of this nature comes to light, we see much hand wringing, and laudable commitments to ensure that it never happens again.

“When is that time? People with disabilities, more so than most, need the State to keep its commitments and promises to them to care for them, and to ensure that they are not put in danger.

“What happened in the Mary Case, and in the recent Grace Case, demonstrates the significant deficits in our care services for vulnerable people.

“Transitioning from foster care to adult disability services need to be both seamless and safe. We cannot have situations again where allegations of abuse are wilfully ignored, for whatever reason, and vulnerable people are put at further risk.

“The way Tusla and the HSE work together must change. They aren’t competing-organisations; their aims and objectives are surely common to both,” concluded Murphy O’Mahony.

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Children & Youth Affairs Anne Rabbitte also commented:

“These appalling communication failures are one of the root causes of the serious deficiencies in our child protection service.  Despite promises from the Minister that a new system will be in place by the end of 2018, this time-lag is extremely worrying.

“We need to ensure that there is proper engagement between the HSE, Tusla, the Gardai and local Government.  Unless this happens, nothing will change, and more young people could be put at risk.

“Recruitment of more social workers must be a priority. It’s a ridiculous situation that the line Minister does not know how many social workers are in the system. Everybody knows how overstretched the service is and it is completely unacceptable that recruitment targets are not being met. Minister Zappone must act on social worker numbers as a matter of urgency.

“This case also demonstrates the need for reform within Tusla. Protocols must be flexible and comprehensive enough that no child or vulnerable adult falls through the cracks due to working procedures that are totally unfit for purpose,” concluded Rabbitte.

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