Earlier today, Tusla published a summary report in respect of the care of three children in a foster home in County Galway.
Once again, and particularly in light of today's publication, I would like to sincerely acknowledge the pain and distress suffered by the three women at the centre of this report.
Lessons have been learned and will continue to be learned from the findings of this investigation. No child should be exposed to the clear risks that were evident after the first disclosures in 2007.
The report provides a sober, full account of what happened, and a clear analysis of the failures that occurred in managing the case. In particular, the report finds that there was enough evidence at the time of the disclosure to warrant the removal of the remaining foster children from the placement.
It finds that the safety plan was flawed, and that there was a management failure to recognise the seriousness and complexity of the case.
These were very grave errors which have led to lives being changed forever. In the intervening years, there have been changes with Tusla's practices and standards.
They are now far advanced from those of the HSE service in the past. Tusla has worked hard to improve its child protection and foster care services, by way of standards, staffing, resources and practices, and I want to make sure that it continues to do so.
Today's report includes four recommendations. Two of these are on the development of practice within Tusla, namely, that there is a review of the national policy and procedures for the link social worker role and for Tusla to include risk assessment and skills relating to managing child sexual abuse cases as core professional development in the Signs of Safety practice framework.
A further two of the major recommendations include developing an integrated approach to the investigation, assessment and management of child sex abuse allegations.
As referenced in the report, work is already under way with the development of the One House-Barnahus model. The first centre will be in Galway.
Additional information not given on the floor of the House
It is also recommended that Tusla develop a multi-agency policy response to how complex cases are managed by Tusla, the Garda and areas of the HSE. This is critical to the State response to children who are being sexually abused. The report recommends a greater recognition of the fact and dynamics involved in sexual abuse by adolescents.
The report sets out the social work practice, its context and what went wrong. It provides insight into the secrecy and dynamics of child sexual abuse that affects many families.
I am determined to complete and advance the reforms under way as part of the child protection and welfare strategy and to pursue actions to minimise the chances of anything like this happening in the future.