HSE chief admits officials involved in Grace case still work for TUSLA

HSE chief admits officials involved in Grace case still work for TUSLA
Tony O'Brien

Update 6.50pm: HSE officials who were involved in the Grace foster abuse case who are still in their jobs are now subject to disciplinary procedures, Director General Tony O'Brien has confirmed, writes Daniel McConnell and Fiachra O Cionnaith.

Speaking before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Mr O'Brien clarified earlier comments he gave and confirmed that three people of a five person panel which decided to leave Grace in a foster home at the heart of the scandal remain in the employment of the public service.

He had earlier said that all three people who mishandled the Grace case had left the service and were in reciept of full HSE pensions.

He confirmed that a number of those persons were now working with Tusla, the State's child protection agency.

During very tetchy exchanges with committee members, Mr O'Brien admitted that a botched apology to Grace was a result of a “extraordinary series of mistakes, a monumental cock-up".

Mr O'Brien was pressed repeatedly about the delays in publishing two reports into the scandal and he confirmed that permission was only sought by the HSE to publish the reports in 2015.

He confirmed that prior to that, the HSE did not seek permission to publish one report, which had been concluded as far back as 2012, clarifying that the HSE adherred to standard practice in not publishing a report where a live Garda investigation was ongoing.

Sinn Fein's David Culinane was highly crtitical of Mr O'Brien's replies accusing Mr O'Brien of “stone-walling”which he described as “unacceptable”.

Labour's Alan Kelly also pressed Mr O'Brien on the procurement of the two reports, which were not subject to normal procurement procedures.

For its part, Tusla confirmed that the Conal Devine report, which was published by the HSE last month, refers to six Tusla staff members.

“These staff members were identified to Tusla by the HSE in the weeks preceding the report’s publication. Tusla met with staff concerned to advise them of the publication of both this and the Resilience Ireland report and has completed an initial HR review process. Tusla is currently examining both reports in detail and will further review the individual staff involvement in the case at the time. If any issues emerge as a result of this review, further HR processes will be invoked, as necessary,” a statement detailed.

“Tusla is actively liaising with an Garda Síochána to ensure that our own internal review processes do not impede their separate, ongoing investigation. Additionally, we will fully cooperate with the forthcoming Commission of Inquiry. Given the sensitivity of this issue and the ongoing processes both internal and external to Tusla, it would not be appropriate to comment further or identify the individuals involved at this time,” the statement added.

Earlier: The head of the HSE has admitted that a senior official involved in the 'Grace' foster case scandal still works for the child and family agency TUSLA.

Tony O'Brien had previously told the Public Accounts Committee last year that none of the three person panel involved in the decision to leave 'Grace' in the foster home still worked in the public service.

Today he had to admit that was wrong, but insisted he had not intentionally tried to mislead the P.A.C.

"I've just corrected part of the record of that committee, which means that the information that I gave was not accurate.

"I do accept that.

"That is the only correction I wish to offer. If the question is did I actively mislead the committee the answer is I did not."

More on this topic

Grace inquiry leaves witness in ‘dire financial situation’Grace inquiry leaves witness in ‘dire financial situation’

Interview delays and discovery of thousands of new files postpones 'Grace' findings until May 2020Interview delays and discovery of thousands of new files postpones 'Grace' findings until May 2020

Grace probe delayed due to scale of findingsGrace probe delayed due to scale of findings

Unending, inconclusive public inquiries another form of abuseUnending, inconclusive public inquiries another form of abuse


More in this Section

New research study to explore long-term effects of repeated concussionNew research study to explore long-term effects of repeated concussion

Man appears in court in connection with Dublin robberyMan appears in court in connection with Dublin robbery

10 of 31 local authorities publish political donations given to councillors10 of 31 local authorities publish political donations given to councillors

Robert Lawlor found not guilty of threatening to murder ex-girlfriend's partnerRobert Lawlor found not guilty of threatening to murder ex-girlfriend's partner


Lifestyle

Sometimes I think we impose Christmas on our kids. A couple of weeks back, my wife and I were all about The Late Late Toy Show and going to see Jack and The Beanstalk in the Everyman Theatre.Learner Dad: I think we impose Christmas on our kids

For our food special, our Currabinny duo, James Kavanagh and William Murray, dish up their top festive side plates.The Currabinny Cooks: Festive side plates to dish up this Christmas

More From The Irish Examiner