Solicitor of foster care victims says it’s “not an isolated incident”

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Ronan Hynes, the solicitor for two of the three victims of sexual abuse in foster care in Dunmore has said that this was “not an isolated incident”.

Details of a damming report on the actions of the HSE and Tusla in relation to a case that saw three girls repeatedly raped by Keith Burke while in foster care between 2003 and 2007 have been reported today by RTÉ Investigates.

The report said that the child and family agency failed to protect the three girls by allowing two of them to remain in the Burke’s care after a “credible” allegation of sexual abuse.

When asked on RTÉ News at One of Tusla is fit for purpose Ronan Hynes said that anyone reading that report would struggle to answer in the affirmative

He said that the overall standard of foster care in Ireland are excellent, but also warned that this was “not an isolated incident”.

Mr Hynes said that the contents of this report “call into serious question the ability of state agencies to properly exercise their statutory functions, which are of course to improve outcomes for children”.

His clients welcome the report he said, for better illuminating how what happened to them was allowed to happen.

An independent audit is required of Tusla from an appropriate expert, Mr Hynes added, looking at its systems and resources to discover whether the agency is fit to carry out its statutory purpose.

“This report leaves the reader in no doubt whatsoever that there were systemic flaws in management and oversight from the initial response, the initial foster care placement assessment, to the investigation, the risk assessment of the allegations and their subsequent management.”

In a statement released today Tusla said that it accepted the findings of the National Review Panel and was working to implement the recommendations made in the report.

However the agency also raised issued with the manner in which the contents of the report were leaked to members of the press prior to its publication.

“Engagements with those affected including young people, families, and the community is in line with best practice, to ensure their wellbeing and limit any adverse effects this situation may have on them.”

“We are concerned that this report has been put into the public domain prior to the publication date and in advance of the completion of a number of important steps which take place in the days before a publication of this nature.”

The child and family agency also noted that this report covers a time before the establishment of Tusla, adding that “Since 2014, social workers have actively worked with the young people involved, where that’s in line with their wishes, and will continue to do so.”