A retired businessman has brought a High Court challenge against provisional findings made against him by Tusla concerning allegations that he sexually abused his siblings more than 40 years ago.

The action has been brought by the man, who cannot be named for legal reasons and who no longer lives in Ireland, and denies the allegations.

As he no longer resides in the jurisdiction, he claims the Child and Family Agency cannot proceed with making findings against him nor assessing him as a potential risk to children.

He is challenging provisional findings made by Tusla earlier this year that he sexually abused his siblings, a younger brother and sister, 40 years ago as “founded” and that he may pose a risk to children.

Tusla informed the man that it wishes to continue with the process due to its obligations to protect children.

The court heard that the man, who is an Irish citizen, lives outside of Ireland, and does not intend to return here. He has no contact with children, the High Court heard.

His lawyers say Tusla does not have jurisdiction to go on and make a finding him against or commence a process to assess the man.

The man claims Tusla has failed to identify any child or category of child at risk, and cannot go on and assess somebody who is not living in the jurisdiction, and therefore not within the area where Tusla enjoys a statutory remit.

It is alleged that by continuing with the process Tusla is acting in a manner that infringes on the man’s constitutional and personal rights, as well as his rights under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

Court orders

In his proceedings against Tusla, the man, represented by Sara Phelan SC instructed by Carter Anhold Solicitors, seeks various orders including one quashing the provisional findings made against him.

He also seeks an order preventing Tusla from going on to making a determination that the claims against him are founded and to stop the agency from assessing him.

He further seeks a declaration from the court that Tusla would be acting outside its powers, in excess of its jurisdiction and unlawfully if it were to go and subject him to an assessment process.

Permission to bring the challenge was granted, on an ex-parte basis, by Mr Justice Charles Meenan at the High Court on Monday.

The judge placed a stay on Tusla proceeding to make a finding that the claims of sexual abuse against the man are founded, pending the outcome of the action.

The stay was granted on conditions, including that Tusla had liberty to return to the court on notice to the man’s lawyers to seek to have the stay lifted.

Another condition was that the man abide by his undertaking to either stay out of the jurisdiction, or if he returned to Ireland, he would give Tusla advance notice of where he would stay.

As featured in Breaking News, 14/6/21

Carter Anhold were the solicitors who acted in this case.