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Minister Zappone welcomes Tusla’s progress in dealing with child sexual abuse following HIQA's statutory investigation


Wednesday  10th July 2019

Today, Minister Zappone welcomed the publication of a third progress report by the Expert Assurance Group (EAG) on steps taken by Tusla to implement recommendations from HIQA’s Statutory Investigation.  

The Minister commented that "I welcome the EAG's report, stating that there is clear evidence of positive momentum across all of the recommendations from the HIQA."

The Expert Assurance Group also provided the Minister with its view of the underlying legal framework on the management of retrospective allegations. 

The Expert Assurance Group's quarterly report discusses its challenges, and notes the commitment of the Executive to managing allegations of retrospective abuse within the current framework.

The Expert Assurance Group has also updated the Minister on progress on recommendations on Tusla’s workforce strategy, social work educational pathways and the international review of best practice in the regulation of children's services. These will be revisited over the course of the next quarter with Tusla and the Department.

Minister Zappone welcomed the report saying "the Expert Assurance Group comments that the Tusla Executive is showing a clear determination to deliver improvements through its strategic action plan." 

The third quarterly report of the Expert Assurance Group is available on the DCYA website.


Notes for Editors

In March 2017, Minister Zappone asked HIQA to undertake a statutory investigation into Tusla, the Child and Family Agency. The investigation team visited 6 Tusla areas and the Sexual Abuse Regional Team (SART) in the Dublin North East Region. Cavan/Monaghan was one of the areas visited. HIQA’s report, published in June 2018, identified risks within Tusla’s systems for managing referrals, safety planning and managing retrospective cases. HIQA made four key recommendations, one of which was the establishment of an expert quality assurance and oversight group to support and advise on the implementation of the recommendations.

The Chair of the expert quality assurance and oversight group, referred to as the Expert Assurance Group (EAG), was appointed by Minister Zappone on 29 of June 2018. Its full membership was appointed the following month and encompasses a wide range of expertise:

  • Dr Moling Ryan, Chair;
  • Dr Helen Buckley, Fellow Emeritus at the School of Social Work and Social Policy, Trinity College Dublin;
  • Ms Michele Clarke, Chief Social Worker, Department of Children and Youth Affairs;
  • Mr Andrew Lowe, Public Policy Consultant;
  • Dr Conor O'Mahony, Lecturer in Law, University College Cork; 
  • Mr Gerry Verschoyle, HR Consultant.

The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs accepted the recommendations contained in the HIQA report, as published on 14 June 2018, in particular recommendation 4 which is the establishment of an expert quality assurance and oversight group (the EAG) to support and advise on the implementation of the remaining recommendations from the report:

  • Recommendation 1: Tusla Action Plan.
  • Recommendation 2: Educational Pathway for Social Workers and an Operational Review (Workforce Plan).
  • Recommendation 3: International Review of Best Practice in the Regulation of Children’s Social Services.

The EAG agreed at an early stage that the Third Interim Report of the Disclosures Tribunal, which was published in October 2018, should also be part of its consideration.