Fianna Fáil Seanad Group Leader, Senator Catherine Ardagh has expressed her concern regarding the provision of Foster Care Services in Ireland in light of the details revealed by RTÉ Investigates on last night’s Primetime programme.

The Senator raised the matter during Order of Business in Seanad Éireann earlier this morning.

She said, “The details of the harrowing case aired last night made for extremely distressing watching.

“When children are placed in Irish foster services, those of which are provided by the Health Service Executive, their care is essentially placed in the hands of the State. The State therefore has a responsibility to safeguard these children, who are often among Ireland’s most vulnerable.

“Tragically, the welfare of these children was severely neglected and they were cruelly abused. It is hard to comprehend that these are not historical crimes and that they in fact took place in the last decade.

“In a recently published report into the provision of foster services in Dublin South Central, we learned that foster families were not Garda Vetted and in some cases were not checked on for up to 3 years – an intolerably long time for any potential crime or negligence to have remained unnoticed.

“The findings published in report after report into foster services in various parts of the country have already had an adverse effect on the public’s confidence in the HSE’s provision of care to these children.

“There are serious questions to be answered in relation to placement and safeguarding of children in this state – not just to ensure safety for those being cared for, but also to rebuild the trust of the wider public.

“There must be an independent investigation into how the HSE handled this case from the date of the initial allegation up to now. It is absolutely imperative too that Minister Zappone provides assurances that adequate resources will be made available to Tusla to deal with child protection.

Senator Ardagh concluded, “I will be requesting that the Minister comes before the Seanad to discuss the situation and the radical changes that are clearly required to ensure this does not happen again.”