State ‘failed child abuse victims’

The State has failed to protect six vulnerable children who suffered at the hands of parents, the Children’s Minister has admitted.

Barry Andrews said interventions by staff focused on the needs of the parents in the Roscommon child abuse case and not the neglected youngsters.

Mr Andrews said his immediate concern was the welfare of the children, whom he offered his sincere apologies.

“These children were innocent victims and were failed in the first instance by their parents, their primary carers,” he said.

“Where parents fail in their duty to care for their children, the State has a constitutional responsibility to take the place of parents.”

The Children’s Minister maintained he will seek assurances that the Health Service Executive practice in assessing and responding to child welfare and protection concerns is being applied to the necessary standard across all regions.

He said the report also raises many questions, not least why concerns of ongoing neglect did not lead to decisive action at an earlier stage.

“The report found, with one exception, that the children’s needs were not subject to a formal assessment, staff were not sufficiently alert to indicators of ongoing neglect and reports of neglect did not trigger an appropriate response,” said Mr Andrews.

“The report found that the statements of the parents were accepted at face value when evidence pointed to a very different conclusion.

“I am particularly concerned that the views of the children were not listened to. In the main, the Inquiry found that the deficits were in the area of social work practice and were not related to resources.”