Seanad debates

Tuesday, 9 July 2024

An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business

 

1:00 pm

Photo of Sharon KeoganSharon Keogan (Independent)

I too want to be associated with the expressions of sympathy for Senator John O'Mahony. My sympathies go to his family. It is lovely to hear colleagues around the Chamber talk so lovingly about him.

I second the amendment to the Order of Business proposed by Senator Craughwell. I call for a debate regarding recent failures of Tusla and proposed solutions for reforming this State agency. The Irish Times reported last Thursday that Tusla failed to notify the courts that it had not allocated designated social workers for 235 children in care. The 235 children are under the care of two social work departments, Dublin and south-west Kildare, and west Wicklow and Dublin south-central. They still have no allocated social workers, and some have had no allocated social worker for years, according to Judge Conor Fottrell. Earlier this year, breakingnews.ie reported that almost 30 children had gone missing from the State in the period from January to mid-April. This morning, the Irish Independent cited a High Court Judge who commented that it is only by the grace of God that some deeply troubled children caught up in a Tusla staff retention crisis are still alive. This was in reference to children deemed by the court to be in need of special care. Tusla operates three special care units but said only 15 of the 26 places in these units are operational as it cannot get staff due to the difficult nature of the work and current rates of pay.

A new report by the Child Law Project reveals that children could not get court-ordered placements in recent months, including a girl with chronic suicidality who had to be rescued on a number of occasions. I could point out many more examples of recent and tragic failures of the State with respect to child welfare. We cannot sit idly by and cease to act. Tusla must be overhauled and revamped urgently. I am sick of asking for these. These are children. By the way, it does not always fall to the State, either. I am constantly asking people out there to step up. These are the most vulnerable children in our society. If you have a home and think you can take care of a child, give these children a chance, please. They are crying out for a loving home and a chance in life. Please, come forward.

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