Harney refuses Shine abuse probe

HEALTH Minister Mary Harney has been accused of “re-abusing” alleged victims of former doctor Michael Shine after she categorically said there will be no inquiry into claims of improper acts spanning 30 years.

In a highly charged meeting with support group Dignity4Patients, the minister said she was refusing growing demands from the group and rival politicians for any formal investigation into the claims.

As a result, the group are considering seeking financial compensation from the state, among other avenues, due to alleged abuse suffered by them at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda between the mid-’70s to mid-’90s.

The minister belatedly agreed to meet representatives of the group after the Irish Examiner revealed a report into the allegations due to be published within 10 weeks had missed its deadline by three months.

This review, which involved detailed interviews with at least 70 of the alleged victims, was led by former High Court judge TC Smyth.

However, while she organised for the report to be drawn up, Ms Harney yesterday said she has no intention of showing the document to Dignity4Patients in any form.

She stated that Judge Smyth had not recommended a formal inquiry be launched into the claims against Mr Shine.

However, Ms Harney said she will not provide any details on the report as the information may impact on “possible prosecutions” involving the claims.

A spokesperson for Dignity4Patients — which represents almost 200 individuals who have made allegations against Mr Shine — said the minister is “re-abusing” alleged victims by refusing to set up an inquiry.

She said possible steps now being considered by the group include:

* Seeking financial redress.

* Seeking an acknowledgement of the alleged abuse.

* A full inquiry with recommendations that are implemented.

“At this point, our voices have not been heard and this decision by the minister only seems to impose an unjust and deafening silence on all affected,” she said.

The calls for action and an inquiry have been supported by Fine Gael, Labour and Sinn Féin health spokespersons James Reilly, Jan O’Sullivan and Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin.

The latest incident surrounding the case came after medical records vital to the ongoing Garda probe into the allegations involving Mr Shine have disappeared from hospital files.

A previous attempt to have a formal inquiry into the claims, which are also the subject of three civil court cases which have been delayed in recent years, was voted down in a Dáil debate by 76 votes to 73.

Mr Shine, aged 79, was cleared of 11 indecent assault sample charges in a 2003 District Court case, but was later struck off during a Medical Council fitness-to-practise hearing.

On May 5, he was arrested at his home in Dublin city before being released without charge. He has always insisted he is innocent of the allegations.


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