Foster home abuse report imminent

Katherine Zappone

The report of an independent review into the abuse of three children while staying in a foster home in Galway is scheduled for the end of this month.

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone said the report was expected after continued delays by the national review panel into the care of and situations surrounding the abuse of the children in care.

The Health Service Executive has already apologised unreservedly to the three children, now women, at the centre of the foster home abuse scandal.

Some of the women previously waived their anonymity to name the abuser as Keith Burke from Addergoolemore in Dunmore. It followed an RTÉ Prime Time investigation.

In April this year, he was jailed after being found guilty of raping the three children between 2003 and 2007.

Independent experts under the national review panel are inquiring into the situation. The review panel had been set up in the wake of the clerical abuse scandals and examines serious incidents.

Galway West TD Catherine Connolly yesterday quizzed the minister about delays in the review.

She said in the Dáil: “What horrifies me is that we are now in November 2018 and there is no sign of the report. Is there a problem with staff or are there insufficient resources?”

The Independent TD noted the files in the abuse case were originally reviewed as far back as April 2016, while the inquiry terms were established in October 2017.

“Questions have to be asked about what is needed to complete this review,” said Ms Connolly.

There had been commitments that the review of the abuse scandal would have be completed last month.

Ms Zappone confirmed it was now expected at the end of this month and was independent.

“The abuse suffered by these very brave young women while in foster care in the early 2000s is shocking, and I am very sorry that their lives were so disrupted and deeply impacted by it,” she said.

The minister also said the national review panel was requested to pause while a criminal inquiry was being completed and that it was now back working.

“My understanding is that it will be reporting at the end of this month,” said Ms Zappone.

“I do not have any more information than that because it is operating independently of my office. I accept the questions that the deputy is asking but I do not have any more information and I do not have any power to bring it forward.”

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