HSE accused of systematic cover-up in regards to 'Grace'

HSE accused of systematic cover-up in regards to  'Grace'

Considerable inconsistencies exist in the HSE’s evidence to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and one of the main reports into the Grace foster abuse scandal, it has been claimed, writes Daniel McConnell.

One of the whistleblowers connected with the Grace case has called on the HSE to explain evidence and testimony it gave to the committee last year which, she says, does not equate with what it has said in other forums.

The HSE is accused of a systematic cover-up in regard to how Grace came to be left in the foster home in the South-East for 20 years, despite serious concerns being raised about the home.

In the Dáil last week, Waterford TD John Deasy described the actions of the HSE as “Kafkaesque”.

“Was it a conspiracy and cover-up? Yes, it was,” he said. “As I have stated previously, it was a concerted and organised attempt to hide information and conceal the truth by a clique of HSE managers.

“It was an orchestrated attempt to protect officials and an organisation who failed people in state care in a catastrophic manner on a number of levels.”

Asked yesterday if she agreed with Mr Deasy’s comments, the whistleblower said she could not dispute a single word he said.

Responding to the charges, Health Minister Simon Harris said those directly involved in the decision to leave Grace in the home in 1996 are no longer at their posts.

“The top-level management were not in place when these things happened in the South-East. People who made direct decisions are no longer there, is what I am told,” he said.

John McGuinness, the Fianna Fáil TD for Kilkenny, said that the culture which led to the cover-up still exists to this day.

“We have shown no respect to those people who have come forward. We stand back as a state and do nothing,” he said.

Members of the PAC criticised HSE director general Tony O’Brien for giving the committee “misleading”, “inaccurate” and “incomplete” information about the ‘Grace’ case.

Mr O’Brien is to respond to the committee in writing this week ahead of a follow-up meeting with the PAC next week. At a meeting of the committee last Thursday, Mr O’Brien said he was not in a position to answer questions about the scandal and sought a week’s grace.

This story first appeared in the Irish Examiner.

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