HSE officials are to be hauled before a Dáil committee after being accused of “lying” to politicians over its handling of allegations of abuse at a foster care home.
The Public Accounts Committee confirmed the emergency meeting during its final scheduled public discussion yesterday, after receiving further correspondence from an agency supporting the alleged victim, which stated two HSE officials said to have apologised have confirmed they never did.
As reported by this newspaper, the HSE earlier this week was forced to offer a formal written apology to a woman with significant intellectual disabilities who allegedly suffered extreme sexual, physical and financial abuse over 20 years at a State foster care home, a case the HSE has been accused of attempting to cover up.
The HSE had insisted it apologised on December 10, and repeated the view in a letter to the PAC last week.
However, representatives of the woman and her birth mother who were allegedly apologised to, have both said no apology was made, forcing the HSE to write a formal apology on Monday due to the “misunderstanding”.
In a letter to the PAC yesterday, the social services agency looking after the alleged victim said both HSE officials said to have apologised on December 10 have “confirmed they were never asked to apologise” and that they have now written to their own bosses to complain about the misinformation.
The agency said this was an attempt to “discredit us and damage our professional reputation”, adding it has been “outraged and insulted that statements released by the HSE refer to meetings with our agency that did not take place”.
It added that it appears the HSE’s “primary concern was to notify the PAC and media that an apology had been given while completely disregarding the need to actually apologise”, and said its treatment of whistleblowers on the case “is as despicable now as it was six years ago” when the abuse scandal first emerged.
Responding to the letter yesterday, PAC chair John McGuinness said the HSE should be hauled in to meet the committee next Tuesday to explain whether what happened was “incompetence or a deliberate attempt to mislead”.
Fellow PAC member John Deasy said “there should be consequences” for whoever chose to “hold the line”, adding the Department of Health must open an investigation into the “deeply troubling” mishandling of what happened.
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