New Disability Minister Finian McGrath has said the imminent State inquiry into the ‘Grace’ foster care sexual abuse scandal may not be expanded to examine a similar incident in Munster as its facts have yet to be proven.
The Independent Alliance TD said the matter needs to be examined further before such a move can be rubber-stamped, but insisted the controversy is under “urgent” investigation.
In a statement after the first full meeting of the new cabinet, Mr McGrath said he has asked the HSE and State child protection group Tusla to meet this week over the latest case of serious foster care sexual abuse of a people with disabilities.
However, he said it is not yet clear whether this second incident will be included in the promised inquiry into the ‘Grace’ abuse case in the south east — the terms of reference for which were not discussed at cabinet yesterday.
“Both the Department of Health and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs are examining these issues urgently and have had discussions with the HSE and Tusla in this regard.
“A meeting between the two departments, the HSE and Tusla is to be held this week. It would therefore be premature to make any decision in regard to further action, if required, until the facts have been established.
“There have been calls for the terms of reference concerning the ‘Grace’ case to be expanded to include the foster care case in Cork/Kerry which has received media coverage in recent days.
“However, it is important to note that, as yet — and in contrast with the ‘Grace’ case where two detailed reports have already been completed — the facts have not yet been established in regard to the most recent foster care case,” he said.
The issue was not raised at cabinet yesterday, during a meeting which was instead dominated by the O’Higgins garda whistleblower report.
Among other issues raised during the weekly ministerial meeting were the publication of the social welfare appeals annual report for 2015, the annual report of the national lottery and an upcoming May 22-25 trip by President Michael D Higgins to Turkey.
Two new cabinet committees have also been established on housing and health, while there has to date been no suggestion the previous Economic Management Council cabinet committee will return.
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