HSE ‘not investigating sex abuse allegations’

THE Health Service Executive is failing to investigate allegations of sexual abuse because social workers are over-stretched, according to a survivors support group.

One in Four executive director Maeve Lewis said she could “wallpaper her office” with letters from the HSE informing victims that their allegations would not be investigated as the agency did not have enough staff.

It has also emerged that just seven extra social worker posts have been filled out of a promised 200 under the Ryan Report implementation plan.

The HSE said in its latest report that contracts for a further 50 posts have been signed and contract offers have been issued to a further 140 applicants.

At the launch of the One in Four’s annual report for 2009 yesterday, which showed a 214% increase in demand for its services, Ms Lewis also revealed that her organisation had written through formal diplomatic channels to the Vatican but had not even received an acknowledgement of the correspondence.

She said clerical sex abuse survivors would probably not welcome a visit here by Pope Benedict due to his failure “to take any responsibility” for the crimes committed by his organisation.

The charity said demand for its advocacy and psychotherapy services more than doubled in 2009 once the Ryan and Murphy reports into widespread clerical abuse had been released.

At the report’s launch in Dublin, Ms Lewis said several leading Church figures had refused to meet the group, although she singled out Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin as particularly supportive in assisting survivors of clerical abuse.

She stressed that although dealing with such historical incidents were core to One in Four’s work, they should not take the focus away from the continuing problem of sexual abuse in society.

“Ironically, on paper the Catholic Church currently has a better child protection system than the state.

“The HSE response varies enormously, and some child protection concerns are never even investigated. While the Gardaí work very hard to engage sensitively with victims, the criminal courts remain an arena where victims can be annihilated by archaic, tortuous procedures…

“Through our apathy and incompetence, will we be reading another Murphy or Ryan report in 2020?”


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