The HSE will today tell the Government if it will publish two detailed reports into serious foster home abuse which is set to be examined by a state inquiry amid repeated cover-up claims.
In response to last month’s publication of the state-commissioned Conor Dignam report into alleged foster abuse in Waterford between the mid-1980s and 2013, Disabilities Minister Finian McGrath set a deadline of today for the HSE to publish two previous reports into the scandal.
The records, written by Conal Devine Associates and Resilience Ireland, are focused on the specific abuse claims.
However, despite being concluded in 2012 and 2014 respectively and costing up to €400,000 to compile, they have not been published due to Garda concerns their release may damage potential future criminal cases.
The abuse claims relate to 47 children and teenagers with severe intellectual disabilities who were placed at the home between the mid-1980s and 2013, with the most prominent case involving a mute woman given the pseudonym ‘Grace’.
It is alleged, but disputed, that when it emerged Grace had been left at the home until 2009 despite the fact all placements were meant to end in 1995 due to serious sexual and physical abuse claims, certain HSE officials attempted to cover-up what happened.
After Mr Dignam’s report contradicted Garda non-publication requests and said the release of the two earlier reports would not “fatally” wound a criminal investigation, Mr McGrath gave the HSE a deadline of today to make a decision to publish the records.
In a statement to the Irish Examiner last night, a HSE spokesperson confirmed it would respond “within the agreed time period” — but refused to say if the reports would be published.
“The HSE will be responding to the minister within the agreed time period and will be discussing any matters with him in the first instance,” the short statement read.
While Mr McGrath and Department of Health officials were last night also unaware of the HSE’s decision, the Government is highly unlikely to accept any decision not to publish the reports or to release them in redacted format only, and may consider forcing their publication if the HSE refuses to do so.
The reports are believed to be key to highlighting the full extent of what officials already know about the Grace case and whether previous investigations adequately examined what happened.
They were due to be published by the HSE in April 2015 before officials were told by gardaí that such a move could impact on a criminal investigation.
While this criminal investigation into the alleged abuse is facing legal difficulties, a separate investigation has also been opened on foot of a fresh whistleblower complaint into alleged criminal recklessness by certain HSE officials.
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