A State review into abuse at a Galway foster home has been deemed “insufficient” by one of the victims who lived there.

Victims have called for a full commission of investigation to be established immediately.

The abuse was raised in the Dáil yesterday during leaders’ questions at which Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said a review had been under way since 2016 by the National Review Panel.

But, reacting to the comments, a victims’ spokesman Ronan Hynes said the inquiry underway by the National Review Panel was not sufficient. He said the panel contacted his client “Sarah” just last month and she had not, at that stage, shared her story with them.

Keith Burke was recently sentenced to seven and a half years in prison, with a year suspended, after he was found guilty of raping the then three foster children between 2003 and 2007.

Mr Hynes said serious questions remain to be answered and he called on the minister for health and the minister for children to establish a statutory commission of investigation.

He said the HSE apology is welcome and noted but in no way does it diminish the seeking of a full independent inquiry into the sexual abuse in the foster care home.

In the Dáil, the Taoiseach said an independent investigation is near completion into the case of the three young rape victims.

He was responding to Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald who called for an independent inquiry.

Mr Varadkar said that a review is being carried out by the Independent Review Panel, made up of independent professionals working in child protection, and it is near completion.

“Tusla staff and some former children in care and their families have been interviewed by the Independent Review Panel.

“Tusla awaits the outcome of that review and agrees to act on all their findings and recommendations,” he said.

He also acknowledged there was concern about the leniency of the seven-and-a-half-year sentence for the abuser and said it was up to the DPP to appeal this.

Also, at leaders’ questions, the Taoiseach said that he intended to beef up the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement to become an “Irish FBI” to deal with white-collar crime.

Mr Varadkar rejected criticism of Nama from Independent TD Mick Wallacewho called for a stepping up in legislation to deal with white-collar crime.

The Taoiseach said: “We intend to strengthen, expand, and beef up the role of the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement. It will be moved from being an office within the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation to a standalone bureau of investigation, a sort of Irish FBI, if one likes, when it comes to white-collar crime and corporate enforcement.”

And on Mr Wallace’s comments, Mr Varadkar said: “It would not be the first time in this House that Deputies put allegations on the record of the House in good faith, perhaps believing them, and we subsequently found out they were untrue. That is why we all need to be cautious in this area.”


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