Tusla mistakes ‘indefensible’

Evidence heard by the Disclosures Tribunal was “indefensible” and will be acted upon, says the head of Tusla.

Tusla CEO Fred McBride admitted “significant mistakes” have been made by those working for the agency and has vowed that people will be held to account.

The tribunal has heard that, because of an administrative error, a Tusla file relating to garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe contained details of a serious assault from an unrelated case.

Appearing before the tribunal, which is examining claims of a smear campaign against Sgt McCabe, Tusla chief operations officer Jim Gibson said “serious case-management mistakes” had been made, but denied the agency covered-up.

In 2006, Ms D alleged that she had been sexually assaulted by Sgt McCabe in 1998. But after investigating the matter, the DPP decided that the allegation would not constitute an offence. A Tusla file on Sgt McCabe was subsequently opened, after Ms D sought counselling in 2013, to which more serious allegations, from an unrelated case, were incorrectly added.

Mr McBride said: “I would agree that it is very uncomfortable listening for us and has been a difficult few months. The whole issue of historical allegations has been one of the major allegations facing us, since we were set up as an agency.

“Having said all of that, in this particular case, there is, no doubt, significant mistakes were made and practice has simply fallen well below the standards that we expect.”

He told RTÉ’s This Week programme that there is “some notion” that those working in Tusla are not sanctioned, but he said that this is not the case and people are being held to account “as we speak”. He added that fair and due process would have to apply.

“I will not defend the indefensible, and some of the things we are hearing from the tribunal, I think, are coming into that category, so, yes, people will be held to account for these mistakes,” said Mr McBride

While many of the complaints received by the Child and Family Agency are historic and predate it, Mr McBride also admitted mistakes have been made since the establishment of Tusla.

“We have made mistakes since we became an agency in our own right,” he said. “I will absolutely own up to these mistakes.”

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