Latest: HSE to write to TDs amid claims it misled PAC about handling of 'Grace'

Latest: HSE to write to TDs amid claims it misled PAC about handling of 'Grace'

Update 4pm: The HSE has agreed to write to TDs next week, amid claims it misled the Public Accounts Committee about its handling of the Grace case.

It is after allegations that it lied to the committee last year about whether the staff responsible for her still worked in the health service.

Meanwhile the State inquiry into the case could be up and running before the end of this week.

Update 2.45pm: The revised terms for a new inquiry into the Grace case have been passed unanimously by the Dáil.

That is despite a last-minute plea from the Public Accounts Committee to delay setting up the inquiry, so it could hold its own hearings first.

The HSE has instead agreed to write to the PAC in response to claims that it misled TDs about the Grace case last year.

Junior Minister Finian McGrath (pictured) has said the commission needs to get up and running now: "It is time now to move beyond being shocked and appalled, at the uncovering of one scandal after another.

"And realise that we have the power to effect change, to protect the vulnerable so that health professionals, the public and all of the citizens, have confidence that vulnerable people in care will be protected appropriately."

Update 12.50am: The HSE has agreed to address ongoing questions over its interactions with gardai on the Devine report prior to 2015 within seven days in a deal to prevent another Grace inquiry delay, writes Fiachra O'Cionnaith.

Cross-party Dail public accounts committee chair Sean Fleming confirmed the agreement after a 90-minute private meeting of the PAC this morning after separately raising the issue with Disabilities Minister Finian McGrath.

The launch of the Grace foster home abuse inquiry was at risk of being delayed again today due to still unanswered questions over the HSE's interaction with gardai on the Devine report prior to 2015.

This is because at the start of a PAC meeting with the HSE specifically on unrelated financial matters, Mr Fleming asked HSE director general Tony O Brien (pictured) about claims the PAC was previously given the wrong information about interactions with gardai over the Devine report.

Latest: HSE to write to TDs amid claims it misled PAC about handling of 'Grace'

Mr Fleming said he wanted to know why Mr O Brien told the PAC last year the 2012 report could not be published at the request of gardai when weekend reports said no formal request to publish was made until 2015.

Mr O Brien declined to respond immediately as the meeting was meant to be on financial issues, and agreed with Mr Fleming to answer the concerns in writing within seven days.

However, Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald and unaligned Independent TD Catherine Connolly strongly objected, saying the answers had to be provided before the Dail signs off on the expanded Grace inquiry terms of reference early this afternoon.

Mr Fleming responded by bringing the committee into private session for at least 90 minutes, during which time he met with Mr McGrath.

It is understood Mr Fleming requested that the terms be delayed for an unspecified amount of time while the issue is resolved.

However, it was subsequently agreed that the delay could be avoided by allowing the HSE to respond in writing within seven days and in person with 14 days.

Mr McGrath was yesterday forced to expand the terms after a public backlash over concerns they would not adequately address claims of a two decade cover-up and fears 46 other people placed at the foster home had not been specifically included in the inquiry.

Update 12am: The launch of the Grace foster home abuse inquiry could be delayed again due to still unanswered questions over the HSE's interaction with gardai on the Devine report prior to 2015, writes Fiachra O'Cionnaith.

Dail cross-party public accounts committee chair Sean Fleming (pictured) made the request during a private meeting with Disabilities Minister Finian McGrath this morning.

Latest: HSE to write to TDs amid claims it misled PAC about handling of 'Grace'

At the start of a PAC meeting with the HSE specifically on unrelated financial matters, Mr Fleming asked HSE director general Tony O Brien about claims the PAC was previously given the wrong information about interactions with gardai over the Devine report.

Specifically, Mr Fleming said he wanted to know why Mr O Brien told the PAC last year the 2012 report could not be published at the request of gardai when weekend reports said no formal request to publish was made until 2015.

Mr O Brien declined to respond immediately as the meeting was meant to be on financial issues, and agreed with Mr Fleming to answer the concerns in writing within seven days.

However, Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald and unaligned Independent TD Catherine Connolly strongly objected, saying the answers had to be provided before the Dail signs off on the expanded Grace inquiry terms of reference early this afternoon.

Mr Fleming responded by bringing the committee into private session for at least 90 minutes, during which time he met with Mr McGrath.

It is understood Mr Fleming requested that the terms be delayed for an unspecified amount of time while the issue is resolved.

At the time of publication at midday on Thursday, the PAC was continuing to meet in private session.

Mr McGrath was yesterday forced to expand the terms after a public backlash over concerns they would not adequately address claims of a two decade cover-up and fears 46 other people placed at the foster home had not been specifically included in the inquiry.

Update 11.08am: The Public Accounts Committee may call on the Dáil not to proceed today with establishing a Commission of Investigation into the 'Grace' case.

Sinn Féin's Mary Lou McDonald accused HSE Director General Tony O'Brien of giving inaccurate or confusing information to the Committee last year when questioned about the case of ‘Grace’.

However, Mr O'Brien said that he would not like to answer questions today, having not had a chance to read back over the transcript of his previous evidence.

Independent TD Catherine Connolly says the Dáil should not now proceed with a vote on establishing the Commission of Inquiry.

“What has come out here today, the issues that have been raised in relation to other concerns that we had already in the Dáil in relation to the inadequacy of the terms of reference, it would do a complete injustice to the situation to go ahead with terms of reference this week in the Dáil without matters being clarified,” she said.

Catherine Connolly
Catherine Connolly

Earlier:

The revised terms of reference for the 'Grace' inquiry will be confirmed by the Dáil today.

Concerns had been raised by Opposition parties that the original parameters were too narrow.

The new plans will see the investigation split in two.

One part will deal with the alleged abuse of the woman known as 'Grace' at her foster home in Waterford.

The other part will examine the cases of dozens of other children who passed through the home.

Latest: HSE to write to TDs amid claims it misled PAC about handling of 'Grace'

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