Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Children today called on the Government to immediately recruit an additional 60 social workers, as promised for this year. Deputy McConalogue made the comments following the conclusion of a horrific case of abuse before the Central Criminal Court this week.
He said: “Despite pledges to recruit 60 additional social workers this year, this has simply not happened. As of the of 30 September 2011 there were four less social workers employed in the HSE and HSE funded agencies than at the beginning of this year, with 2,429 employed compared to 2,432 on 1st January. In addition, the recruitment moratorium has seen maternity leave and temporary posts not being filled, further increasing the pressure on a system that was unable to prevent the horrors visited on the family highlighted in court this week.
Deputy McConalogue continued, “This Government is engaging in a game of charades every time a child protection scandal emerges. Quite cynically, the Minister for Justice claims that the Government is getting tough on child protection by introducing the Criminal Justice (Withholding Information on Crime Against Children and Vulnerable Adults) Bill. However in the vast majority of cases the health authorities know about the allegations. In the case before the Court this week, the HSE knew about the case back in the year 2000. By citing the introduction of this legislation, Ministers Shatter and Fitzgerald are hoping to deviate attention from their ongoing failure to properly resource our child protection services.
Deputy McConalogue commented, “It is only right and proper that both the Minister for Justice and the Minister for Children praise the bravery of the children for testifying in this case. The actions of children concerned are nothing short of heroic. The Ministers’ words ring hollow, however, in the absence of any apology on behalf of the State.
“The case is under review by the HSE Review Panel established under the Chairmanship of Prof. Helen Buckley. The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs must set out a clear timeline as to when this work will be completed and must commit to the holding of an independent statutory inquiry if the National Review Panel’s report is limited or curtailed in any way.
“It appears that HSE National Director for Children and Family Services, Gordon Jeyes’, assertion made back in early August is absolutely correct. There are members of the Cabinet who believe that problems in our child protection services can be solved by legislation alone,” concluded Deputy McConalogue.