Tuesday 20 February 2018

Tusla chief claims staff did 'not act with malice' over false McCabe allegation

Tusla CEO Fred McBride. Photo: Douglas O'Connor
Tusla CEO Fred McBride. Photo: Douglas O'Connor

Eilish O’Regan

The head of the country’s child protection watchdog today denied any malice in its dealings with allegations of wrongful sexual abuse against Sgt Maurice McCabe.

Tusla chief Fred McBride was speaking before an Oireachtas committee in the wake of criticism that it failed to properly process the allegation of sexual abuse against Sgt McCabe.

This unfounded allegation was made in a cut and paste error by a HSE counsellor in 2013 but Sgt McCabe was not made aware of it until December 2015.

Mr McBride told the Committee on Children and Youth Affairs: "I think it is important to also point out that I have no knowledge, or evidence that Tusla staff acted with any malice of intent.

“I also wish to make clear to you that if I did receive such evidence or information I would intervene, personally, immediately and publicly.

“But as we know mistakes were made and we look forward to working in concert with the Tribunal of Inquiry in addressing this matter in its totality.”

He said: "At this juncture I would like to clearly reiterate our apology to the affected family and for the distress and upset they have endured.

“What has occurred is not reflective of the high standards that staff hold themselves to, or that I as Chief Executive hold them to.”

He told the members: "Tusla has received 122,528 referrals in the first three years of it’s existence.

“More than 51,000 of these relate to abuse and neglect. It is therefore extremely important that to remain utterly focused on the much needed transformation and reform of child protection services, he added

“We owe it to these children and their families to provide appropriate, proportionate and timely responses to any concerns raised.

“Almost every inquiry into serious cases of child abuse in this country, including child deaths, have highlighted the lack of information sharing across key agencies as a key contributing factor to things going wrong.

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