A Donegal man who was falsely accused of abusing his children has had his life destroyed by alleged failings by Tusla, the Dáil has heard.
The man’s reputation was ruined after being falsely accused of physically abusing his teenage son, who lived with him, and his daughter, who lived in the north.
Deputy Pearse Doherty raised his case with the Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman this morning in the Dáil, urging the government to ensure that the ordeal that the man and his family have gone through is not repeated on any other family.
The accused father was not believed by social services in both jurisdictions, leading him to suffer significant mental and physical health problems as a result of the stress. The first accusation was made regarding the alleged physical abuse of his son in 2010. It took Tusla three years to investigate the alleged incident. The man’s name was not cleared until years later when he was given an official apology from Tusla.
“No appropriate explanation has ever been given by Tusla as to why it took three years to investigate the matter,” Deputy Doherty said.
He said the man and his family “were put through a decade of hell because of false accusations in repeatedly not being believed. During this time his reputation was destroyed, his business ceased and he lost access to his daughter.”
In 2014, the father was also accused of punching his daughter in the stomach. His name wasn’t cleared until his daughter admitted, 11 months later, that she was told to say that her father had punched her.
Deputy Doherty said: “All records relating to (him) having abused his son have now rightly been deleted by Tusla and Tusla has officially apologised to (him) for their failures regarding him and his family.
“Regarding the accusation that he assaulted his daughter, these false accusations were handled so badly by the authorities that this has recently resulted in him receiving compensation from this state in the High Court due to the stress that had been caused.”
The Donegal Sinn Féin TD commended Tusla staff who eventually facilitated a process of correcting records held on the man and his family.
“Tusla is made up of passionate people who care for families and children. In this case, systems broke down, accusations were made, families were destroyed, consequences that families will continue to live with, even though there were apologies, compensation and errors are corrected,” Deputy Doherty said.
Deputy Doherty told the Dáil that, within the Tusla investigation, the man discovered a fabricated confession, seemingly made by him, of abusing his 13-year-old son. The false report was found through a Freedom of Information request. It has since been clarified in court.
Deputy Doherty, speaking during Topical Issues in the Dáil, asked the Minister to echo Tusla’s apology to the man and his family.
Minister Roderic O’Gorman said he needed time to consider the details of the case to give a more considered response to the issue. The Minister said his Department raised the case with Tusla’s chief operations officer yesterday requesting an urgent detailed report on the matter.