Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Children and Youth Affairs Robert Troy has expressed concern that the Government has still not learned from the mistakes of the past, and has not taken sufficient action to improve child protection measures. His comments come following the publication of the National Review Panel reports into children who died in State care.
Deputy Troy said, “Three issues seem to arise for me. Poor interagency co-operation is being highlighted once again. This has been an ongoing problem and is one of the factors behind the establishment of the Child and Family Agency (Tusla). It now needs to prove itself and ensure a more coherent working relationship between all the bodies engaged in child protection and welfare.
“We are still awaiting the enactment of required legislation. Former Children’s Minister Frances Fitzgerald did bring the much delayed Children First legislation into the Dáil but it has not advanced any further in the legislative process since then. In addition to this we have seen the Aftercare Bill published. The government has approved the heads and the general scheme of the Bill, but there has been little progress since then. I do not want to see a repeat of the situation with the Children’s First legislation, whereby it took two years for the Bill to be published following the approval of the heads of the Bill.
“There has been a consistent failure to identify and respond to mental health issues. This failure has been compounded by the government not transferring responsibility for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services to Tusla, the new Child and Family Agency. On top of this, we still have an insufficient number of social workers, and we have still not reached a situation where every child in care has an individual care plan. These are deficits that must be addressed urgently if we are to prevent the mistakes of the past from being repeated.
“The investigation into the Talbot case was a recommendation of the Independent Child Death Review Group, which called for an independent inquiry. However, I have reservations about whether an investigation conducted under the auspices of Tusla the Child and Family Agency can truly be regarded as independent.