The Irish Quality Agency (HIQA) has criticised the agency responsible for managing allegations of abuse in Ireland. It found that fewer than half of the cases of suspected child abuse in the South Dublin area had been reported to the Gardai (Irish police) in a timely manner.
It also found that children identified as at risk were not receiving regular home visits from social workers with gaps of six weeks or more recorded.
The report notes that while there have been some improvements in the processes there is still a lot of work to be done to implement the required steps. Only 38% of cases checked had reached the Gardai in the manner required and five cases remained to be notified from as long ago as 2018.
Despite greater understanding of the issues in child abuse, identification and reporting a significant risk remained for children at risk, for whom the referral process was not working. It appears confusion exists within social workers as to their role and the trigger point for referral to the Gardai.
In a different area there was a case where a child, aged 14, was found to be living with a convicted sex offender, while the report also found that other convicted sex offenders had direct contact with children following their release from prison.
TUSLA has struggled to meet their standards and were working towards achieving greater levels of support to children at risk.
The Chief Operating Officer for TUSLA acknowledged the findings and accepted them but noted the positive comment that things were improving.
TUSLA noted some high priority cases and confirmed that these cases were prioritised where capacity allowed for that.
Fintan Canavan, Partner, BLM