Fresh queries raised over health board failures in Roscommon case

NEW questions over the failure of health board staff to intervene in the Roscommon abuse case emerged yesterday, including why recommendations dating from 1996 have yet to be implemented.

In a statement yesterday Fine Gael justice spokesman Alan Shatter raised a number of issues he said were not addressed in the report on the case, published earlier this week.

Mr Shatter said: “There were specific recommendations contained in the report published in 1996 into the death of Kelly Fitzgerald, as a consequence of the failures of the same health board that, if implemented, would have ensured the Roscommon children would have been taken into care at a much earlier stage and may not have become victims of barbaric sexual abuse.

“The HSE and the Minister for Children need to explain why, over 14 years after publication of the report into the death of Kelly Fitzgerald, these recommendations have still not been implemented.”

Regarding the ex parte application made to the High Court in October 2000 by the children’s parents, backed by the conservative Ógeagras Naoimh Papain religious group, he said the health board had delayed its response with disastrous results.

“The report fails to detail what occurred in the High Court in the days immediately following the initial making of the order nor does it state what information, if any, was then given to the court,” Mr Shatter said.

It was clear, he said, that “an excessive amount of time was allowed to elapse before these court proceedings were properly dealt with”, with a “complete disconnect between the lawyers representing the health board and the social workers and health board managers involved with this family”.

When it later became possible for the health board to seek district court care orders, those working on the case seemed unaware that the option was open to them, he said.

Mr Shatter said accountability was needed, and this should extend to “the group responsible for the convicted parents taking High Court action in the year 2000 and for that group’s continuing involvement with the parents”.

Meanwhile, the Courts Service Annual Report for 2009, seems to support the claim that supervision orders are under-utilised.

Supervision orders made by the District Court fell by 22% last year to 627, down from 804 in 2008, while care orders fell to 941, from 1,044 in 2008.

In a statement the HSE said: “The report as published provides extensive information about the case, far beyond the norm of what the HSE can normally say in relation to dealings with individuals. It has to be understood that the family is under the care of the courts, therefore the HSE will not be providing any further information in relation to family.”


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