Dublin South West TD, Seán Crowe, has described the findings of a HIQA report into Tusla’s Child Protection and Welfare Services in Dublin South Central as unacceptable.

The Sinn Féin TD said the report raised serious concerns and that the under reporting of allegations of abuse might be happening in other areas because of staff shortages or other factors.

Deputy Seán Crowe said:

“The findings of this HIQA report are a cause of deep concern and demand urgent answers from Minister Zappone.

“Like many others who have knowledge of this HIQA report I am particularly concerned by the suggestion of underreporting of allegations of abuse from the child protection and welfare service to An Garda Síochána. This is totally unacceptable.

“Serious questions as to why a robust system for notifying An Garda Síochána of suspected abuse was not in place, and why social workers failed to act appropriately in this regard, must be answered.

“The HIQA report also raises further concerns around long waiting lists and continuous inaction when it came to responding to welfare concerns about children. We continue to see serious deficits when it comes to good record keeping and the completion of assessments in line with good practice. This is simply not good enough.”

Crowe continued:

“This report also raises very real concerns into whether this is being replicated in other areas of Dublin and Ireland, particularly in areas that might already be experiencing staff shortages in critical posts.

“Tusla deals with some of the most vulnerable children in our society and we want to be assured that children who are at risk are receiving the appropriate protection and support in a timely manner.

“It is evident from the report that some of the problems stem from the inability of Tusla to recruit and retain staff, in particular social workers. This is a major issue that has been repeatedly raised with the Minister yet there has been nothing done to address the staffing crisis in the sector.

“The Minister needs to urgently address this problem, and the gaps in child protection and welfare services. A failure to do so is leaving vulnerable children at risk.

“The Minister also needs to reassure all those concerned that these gaps in child supports are not being replicated in other areas where key staff.”