Ordinarily, during a crisis, a high-level emergency task force – the National Emergence Coordination Group (NECG) – is assembled to manage the response. Where is the NECG?

The cyber-attack is putting at-risk children at increased risk of abuse and neglect, according to Social Democrats Spokesperson on Children Jennifer Whitmore.

“Tusla’s computer system has been completely shut down since this cyberattack. Social workers are unable to access files on at-risk children; the online portal used to report concerns about at-risk children is down and decisions about whether to move children from at-risk situations or locations may be delayed.

“Despite this, there has been almost zero reference to the impact of this attack on at-risk children from the government, the HSE or Tusla.

“Yesterday, Opposition party leaders were briefed on the attack – and the debilitating impact on Tusla wasn’t even mentioned.

“Minister for Children Roderick O’Gorman should come to the Dáil to answer questions about this. He needs to tell us whether vulnerable children, living in unsafe conditions, are at increased risk due to this cyberattack.

“The Minister needs to explain what kind of safeguards are in place; what contingency plans exist; how reports of at-risk children are now being dealt with and how long more he thinks Tusla is going to be without its computer system – and its hugely important records and reports.

“Concerns are also now mounting that sensitive data, concerning reports of abuse, could be leaked into the public domain by these criminals. This is causing huge stress and anxiety.

“The confusion about the precise nature and extent of this attack has been ongoing for a week now. It is not an exaggeration to say that HSE hospitals have been crippled by this attack.

“Delayed treatment, or an error when medics are transcribing medical information by hand, will inevitably cost lives. The situation could not be more serious.

“Ordinarily, during a crisis, a high-level emergency task force – the National Emergence Coordination Group (NECG) – is assembled to manage the response and provide regular briefings to the media and the public. We see it happen routinely when there is an extreme weather event, like a snowstorm, that may cause death or serious injury.

“Where is the NECG? Who is managing the response to this crisis? One week into this attack, we are still not sure which senior Minister is in charge. Details have been released in a haphazard manner and we are still no clearer on how long it will take to resolve this disaster.

“We need information about the true scale, breadth and depth of this crisis. We also need to see Ministers acknowledge the serious consequences it may have for patients – both their health and their data – as there is a misperception, by some, that the impact is merely administrative.

“First we were told it could take weeks to recover data. Now we are being told it will be months. Which is it? How long more will medics, social workers and the public will dealing with the fall-out from this attack? When can the computers be turned back on?”

20 May, 2021


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