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Press release from the Irish Association of Social Workers

  • 02 Jun 2017

Amendment to press release issued 2.6.17 below, following a recent clarification from TUSLA that indeed Dr Geoffrey Shannon had consulted with them during the preparation for his audit report. IASW would like to apologies for the error to Dr Shannon in our previous press release which we have rectified.

Press release from the Irish Association of Social Workers

2nd June 2017

Regarding Dr. Geoffrey Shannon Audit of the Exercise by An Garda Síochána of the provisions of Section 12 of the Child Care Act 1991

IASW supports the recommendations in the audit report.


But it is only fair to acknowledge that under the new Child and Family Agency TUSLA some progress has been made.

  • Out of hours services for children were totally absent in most of the country up until 2015.
  • Child protection assessments were not standardised nationally.
  • There were no national standards for the supervision and ongoing training for social workers.

Dr. Geoffrey Shannon is right that it is essential for the safety and welfare of children that effective inter-agency working between An Garda Siochana and TUSLA is addressed, with communication systems that provide key information accessible 24/7. Specialist child protection units that include Gardai and social workers working together is an innovative and important recommendation.

The “Out of Hours Social Work Services” accessible to children and families must be enhanced further as a matter of urgency so as to ensure that children and families in a crisis can access advice and support, ensuring the immediate the safety of the child. But what Dr. Geoffrey Shannon has not addressed sufficiently is the need for social work services to be resourced sufficiently to do their job. 

IASW has expressed repeated concerns of the difficulty in recruiting social workers to work in this challenging area of social work but particularly retaining social workers and ensuring we can have the most experienced social workers sharing their knowledge and supporting newly qualified social workers in the work of protecting children. Action to ensure social workers are employed in sufficient numbers and are supported to stay working in this area is one of the most important recommendations that IASW believes is required to keeping our vulnerable children safe.

Most children subject to a Garda decision to invoke Section 12 and are deemed to be at an immediate risk are known to social work services. So it is not just the need to have a robust “Out of Hours Social Work Service” but an effective day service where social workers can be employed in sufficient numbers to manage all the children known to be vulnerable for whatever reason.

It will also mean having sufficient emergency placements, residential and fostering placements, with sufficient family support workers to undertake the practical support vulnerable families need often for the long term. Only then will we be more confident that we have a service that can ensure as far as reasonably possible the safety of our children and whenever possible to facilitate that most children can return to his or her family with a care plan that can support the family and ensure the welfare and safety of that child.

“Child protection is everyone’s responsibilities and as a community we must all work in partnership and together we will make a difference, in the interest and welfare of all our children.”


For more information contact:

Frank Browne Chair IASW

IASW 114-116 Pearse Street Dublin 2