HSE boss to appear before PAC to answer questions on South East abuse case

HSE boss to appear before PAC to answer questions on South East abuse case

The head of the HSE will next week appear before the Public Accounts Committee to answer questions about alleged abuse of children with disabilities at a foster home in the South East.

Tony O'Brien today accepted an invitation from the PAC to report on how children were treated and how the subsequent accusations of abuse were dealt with by the HSE.

It is claimed that attention was drawn to cases of abuse at the foster home in the 1990s.

Mr O'Brien said he had requested that the social care division look very carefully at the issue, before he appears before the PAC on Tuesday.

Chairperson of the PAC John McGuinness (pictured) said he believed a public inquiry was necessary to uncover all of the facts.

He said: "Because of the lapse of time and what seems to be the inability of the HSE to complete a proper report, and because the only report has been held back from us and not published, I think there is a need for an inquiry to clear up all of these matters."

The setting up of a Commission of Inquiry would require a Government decision and a vote by the Oireachtas.

In a statement this evening Minister for Primary Care, Social Care and Mental Health Kathleen Lynch said "serious consideration" should be given to establishing a Commission of Inquiry to look at all aspects of what happened in the South East.

But she said that a definitive judgement on this should not be made in advance of seeing the report by Conor Dignam SC, who she appointed on December 7 to undertake a review of the Devine and Resilience Ireland reports already completed on the matter.

The Minister said that on first hearing of this matter in April 2014, her immediate concern was to ensure that no person was currently at risk. She received that assurance and was informed that no new admissions have been made to this private foster home since 1995 with the last resident being removed in 2009.

Minister Lynch said this evening: "The critical question of why this young vulnerable person was left in the foster home until 2009 even though the most serious concerns had been raised about her remains the central issue.

"The Devine and Resilience Ireland reports, once published, may answer some of the questions that currently remain unanswered.

"The ongoing Garda investigation since 2010 has prevented publication of these two reports. It has not however prevented the HSE from implementing the recommendations in the Conal Devine report including a National Foster Care Audit, which is welcome."

In relation to the controversy about the issuing of an apology by the HSE to the female victim in the case, Minister Lynch said that the "confusion and complete lack of clarity was very regrettable".


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