Aontú leader, Deputy Peadar Tóibín has today called for a review into why the number of children being referred to Tusla has been rising so dramatically in recent years. Deputy Tóibín said:

“Documents released to Aontú today show the number of referrals to Tusla’s child protection and welfare services in the first three months of 2018, 2019 and 2020. A clear trend can be seen here – since 2018, the number of referrals during the first quarter of the year has increased by 20%. These statistics hint at a growing problem when it comes to issues of child protection in this country. I am deeply concerned that the closure of schools may have negatively impacted at-risk children. I’m calling on the incoming government to launch an immediate review to establish why the number of children being referred to Tusla has risen so dramatically”.

Deputy Tóibín continued: “I believe issues of alcohol and drug addiction are the primary causes of children suffering abuse in their own homes. Last month Aontú asked the Department of Children and Youth Affairs if they had engaged in any correspondence, throughout the Covid pandemic, with organisations and charities like Cuan Mhuire, the Ruthland Centre, Merchants Quay Ireland, the Ana Liffey Drug Project or Jigsaw which related to drug use by minors. The Department confirmed that they had not engaged in any such correspondence. This isn’t acceptable, in the middle of a lockdown the Minister should really have engaged in communication with organisations who are fighting the scourge of alcoholism and drug abuse and trying to help vulnerable people”.

“Furthermore, these statistics and revelations highlight the importance of a mechanism through which elected representatives may ensure accountability and more importantly seek information which can help us better diagnose a societal problem and instigate change. It is for this reason that I will oppose any attempts to abolish the Department of Children and Youth Affairs”, concluded Deputy Tóibín.