Taoiseach Enda Kenny has been called upon to intervene directly to explain the “shocking” delay to a commission of investigation into the sexual abuse at a foster home in Waterford.
A scoping report into the abuse allegations relating to the foster home was due back last month, but will not now be delivered until the day after the Dáil rises for the summer break in July.
Following a series of Irish Examiner reports this year, the previous government announced that a commission would be established to examine allegations.
However, it has now emerged that it will be autumn at least before the commission is formally established, as the HSE has sought more time to respond to a preliminary report.
The previous government relented to mounting pressure after this newspaper’s reports, which centred on the neglect and abuse of a woman given the name Grace, revealing that she was left in the home until 2009, 16 years after abuse allegations first surfaced.
Speaking to the Irish Examiner, Oireachtas finance committee chairman John McGuinness, who drove the bid to expose the abuse scandal, called on the Taoiseach to intervene to establish the commission as soon as possible.
“I am amazed, shocked, and disappointed at the news that this is going to be delayed,” he said.
“After so long, it is disappointing that this is being kicked to touch. The Taoiseach now has to do something about this; he has to intervene.”
At the weekend, former junior health minister and Labour TD Kathleen Lynch expressed her concern at the “disturbing” delay.
Last December, Ms Lynch appointed senior counsel Conor Dignam to conduct a scoping report of available information about the foster home and its relationship with the 47 former residents who were sent there between the early 1980s and 2013.
Among the documents under his consideration are two HSE-sponsored reports — the 2012 Conal Devine Report and the 2015 Transparency Ireland Report — neither of which have been published.
This is because the abuse allegations are under Garda investigation and the HSE has insisted it wants to see the reports in the public domain, but it must adhere to the Garda request.
It is understood that Mr Dignam submitted a draft report three weeks ago, but the HSE sought an extension to respond, so the full report is not due back until July 22, the day after the Dáil rises for the summer recess.
In a statement, the HSE said: “We were given a draft report to consider in terms of factual accuracy. This would involve us talking to quite a few staff in different parts of the country.”
The minister responsible for overseeing this matter, Finian McGrath, was not in a position to comment, but is known to be somewhat frustrated at the lack of progress.
The matter will not now go to Cabinet this week.
Our reports revealed how, following a letter from the foster father to the minister of health in 1996, a decision to remove Grace from the foster home was overturned and she remained in the home until 2009.
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