Wednesday, 13 May 2020

Questions (1106)

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

1106. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her views on reports (details supplied) in respect of the treatment of child abuse victims; if changes in respect of the process will take place; the measures that will be taken to ensure child abuse victims will feel safe and secure to pursue complaints; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4525/20]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, have confirmed that the Child Abuse Substantiation Procedures are still in development, and will be subject to ongoing review. I wish to clarify that, at the time this question was originally tabled by the Deputy, Tusla advised that the outcome of the consultation process would be concluded by May, with a final report published in June. My officials are engaging with Tusla to establish whether that timeline is still feasible in light of the ongoing public health emergency.

The welfare and protection of children is the primary responsibility of Tusla. In situations where a person discloses abuse, Tusla is required to assess whether the person against whom the allegation is made, poses a current risk to children.

When assessing allegations of abuse, Tusla is required to strike a balance between minimising trauma to the person who has disclosed abuse, and affording fair procedures to the person against whom an allegation has been made. The way that Tusla operates in assessing allegations of abuse is informed by both legislation and decisions made by the courts. Where it appears that a crime has been committed Tusla is required to share information with An Garda Síochána.

Tusla has confirmed to my officials, and publicly stated, that it cannot and would never compel a person to participate in investigations into a report of child abuse against their wishes. This includes a person who has told Tusla of past abuse being questioned by the person they alleged is their abuser.

Children, and vulnerable adults, who allege that they have been abused, will only meet with Tusla appointed representatives in the course of Tusla's assessment into whether the adult accused of abuse poses a current risk to children.