Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Children & Youth Affairs Anne Rabbitte says she’s deeply disturbed but unsurprised by the findings of an audit of the State’s child protection system.

The examination, which was carried out by the special rapporteur on child protection Geoffrey Shannon, uncovered serious failings in the Child and Family Agency Tusla, as well as communications issues between the agency and the Gardaí.

Deputy Rabbitte explained, “The deficiencies identified in this audit will not come as any great surprise to anyone working in the child protection area.  Issues with staffing and resources have been flagged by social workers and officials working with the agency.  There are large parts of the country which still do not have access to an out-of-hours social worker service – this is almost unthinkable in a first world country.

“The state is failing vulnerable children, but what is most worrying is the fact that the concerns raised by Mr. Shannon’s audit are issues which have been raised time and time again.  The Government cannot continue to stand by and lament the failings in the system while doing nothing about it.  Minister Zappone has responsibility for the agency and must hold it to account.

“There needs to be a radical overhaul of the current system, with particular emphasis placed on communication and transparency.  The Minister also needs to ensure that recruitment levels are brought in line with best practice so that an effective out-of-hours service can be established.

“Action must be taken on foot of this report so that people can have faith in the system.  It is not acceptable that the system set up to protect vulnerable children is allowed to continue to fail them so badly.  This audit must be the catalyst for change”.