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Dublin: 10 °C Tuesday 19 November, 2019
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IT’S TUESDAY in Leinster House and everyone is a bit weary from the Fine Gael leadership hustings. Just one week of voting and there’ll be a new leader.

Today the Dáil discussed: 

  • Professor Geoffrey Shannon’s report on child protection
  • The Charleton Commission 

Micheál Martin raises the issue of yesterday’s report on child protection – where the special rapporteur says some children are treated like human trash by the the authorities.

Martin says it was a damning indictment on government that this was happening despite the Children’s Referendum in 2014.

Enda Kenny says he is very upset about this report.

He said the recent RTÉ programme on the issue was “harrowing viewing to say the least”.

He said it showed that some children were left in “unconscionable circumstances” in places where they should “feel most loved, most safe and most valued”.

Martin says Kenny’s response shows “the pathetic nature buck passing”.

The issue here should be about the protection of children – says Kenny.

He says his understanding is that work is well underway in relation to some of the items mentioned in the report.

He says he understands there is an audit on garda child protection resources. Martin asked why the Templemore training gives gardaí no grounding on child protection issues.

Gerry Adams says the RTÉ programme was “scandalous”.

He says some of the recommendations in the report are basic, and should be in place already. He raises the issue of private services operating as foster carers and also the lack of out-of-hours social workers.

Adams says Enda Kenny’s upset “just won’t cut it anymore”.

He wants all 17 recommendations to be implemented immediately. He says it is shocking that lack of training gardaí get in child protection.

“It is the duty of your government to change this reality,” says Adams.

He calls for the Tusla CEO to come before the Children’s Committee and says any attempt by the organisation to undermine Professor Geoffrey Shannon’s report is inexcusable.

Enda Kenny admits that it is a “damning report”.

He says Minister Katherine Zappone and Minister Frances Fitzgerald to discuss the issue.

Kenny says the Garda Commissioner will have to respond to the matter of the lack of garda training in diversity and also the deficiencies in the Pulse system.

Enda Kenny says he understands that there is a plan to introduce a child protection unit in the gardaí.

He says the government plans to implement all the recommendations of the report.

Adams thanks Kenny for his answer – but says there now needs to be action.

We warned you when Tusla was set up that the initiative would fail without the resources, says Adams.

Let’s not be back here next year – “someone else instead of me, someone else instead of you” – dealing with another report, says Adams.

 

I will see that this is initiated, Kenny promises.

He says he wants to see that Tusla is enabled to do its job.

“This is a protection about children, not about the protection of jobs or structures.”

I don’t doubt your sincerity, says Labour’s Brendan Howlin.

“It is beyond shocking.”

He references a number of the cases featured in the report – some involving cases of children wandering the streets while the parents are out drinking.

Howlin asks for the Taoiseach to commit to a 24-hour service and for all gardaí to get re-trained, and he wants a timeline.

“I am not happy about the situation that has arisen here,” says Kenny. He says there are clearly questions to be answered as to what has happened to public money and public staff here and why this was allowed happen.

kenny

This is not about zero accountability, says Kenny.

The Taoiseach says Tusla must answer serious questions and he plans to meet all involved.

He says he remembers the day he launched Tusla over in Dublin Castle. Kenny says this report points out “serious inadequacies here and I intend to deal with them”.

He says the culture here has been on of defence when it should be about the protection of children,

You can’t have children living in fear in urine soaked clothes.

There is nothing more important than this.

I am not happy about this.

Mick Barry is talking now about claims that Garda Commissioner Noírín O’Sullivan’s phone has gone missing and can’t be provided to the Charleton Commission.

Taylor’s phone has not been given over either, Barry tells the chamber.

Barry tells that Dáil that Noírín O’Sullivan’s husband confiscated Taylor’s phone upon his arrest.

“And O’Sullivan can’t find her phone,” says Barry.

“Was this phone reported missing?” He asks.

“I don’t know if that is a true statement or not but I expect Judge Charleton will find out the truth about that,” Enda Kenny says.

Barry says perhaps Kenny should ask the Garda Commissioner about the phone himself.

Enda Kenny says public hearings of the commission will be held in July and that is where the truth will come to light.

That’s it for Leaders’ Questions. Join us back here tomorrow.

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