A HSE-commissioned report into claims that officials drained resources from the Grace sex abuse whistleblowers will not be published until at least the end of August — five months after its initial deadline, writes Fiachra Ó Cionnaith and Daniel McConnell.
The Irish Examiner has learned that the report by accountancy firm Deloitte into serious concerns over sudden funding cuts to the agency the whistleblowers worked for between 2009 and 2016 is continuing to face ongoing delays despite being mainly completed by late March.
The report is understood to outline how up to €600,000 in HSE funding was cut from the agency in the years after the whistleblowers raised the Grace case concerns, and specifically relates to staffing and therapy funding reductions.
In addition, it is believed to have raised serious questions over why the funding cuts took place and who authorised them, issues which were outside of the original terms of reference the HSE set down for the report.
However, despite the fact the report has been largely complete since late March and draws many of the same conclusions that were confirmed as part of the €6.3m High Court award for Grace against the HSE earlier this year, the document has yet to be released — due in part to concerns from individual HSE officials.
As previously reported by the Irish Examiner, the Deloitte report was commissioned by the HSE director general, Tony O’Brien, in February 2016 amid claims that the whistleblowers’ agency — which has not been named to protect their identities — saw its funding cut by €600,000 in the immediate aftermath of raising concerns about Grace’s treatment.
At a PAC meeting in late March, Mr O’Brien said the Deloitte report was mainly drawn up and would be published “imminently”.
After a near-three month delay, in mid-June Mr O’Brien told the committee he had been “misled” about the deadline and promised the report would be published by the end of June.
It is understood that Deloitte contacted the whistleblowers’ agency to say it would like to meet to discuss the “draft” report on August 10 — meaning the document is unlikely to be concluded until late next month at the earliest, five months after the initial deadline.
Asked about the delay, a HSE spokesman said it would be more appropriate to tell the PAC first as to when the report will be delivered.
This story first appeared in the Irish Examiner