Positive Action faces HSE funding deadline today

James Reilly: Briefed on Garda investigation.

A support group for women given contaminated blood products by the State has until today to convince the Health Service Executive (HSE) not to pull its funding.

Last week, the HSE formally wrote to Positive Action warning that it would no longer provide financial support unless the group could make a plausible case justifying continued funding.

The letter was sent as soon as an administrator installed by the HSE to ensure “appropriate expenditure of public monies” completed her work.

A garda investigation is also under way in relation to aspects of Positive Action. Health Minister James Reilly has been briefed on the matter.

Positive Action did not respond to phonecalls made last night by this newspaper.

The group received substantial funding from the HSE — on average €600,000 pa — between 2006 and 2011.

In 2008 the HSE signalled it wanted to move from the “bespoke” model of funding the group enjoyed to the type of standardised funding arrangements that apply to other voluntary organisations but Positive Action mounted a High Court challenge.

Positive Action argued that a standardised agreement did not take account of its unique status as an advocacy organisation, advancing the interests of a group that had been wronged by State action and inaction.

However Mr Justice George Birmingham, in a judgment delivered last May, ruled in the HSE’s favour saying that “no illegality” attached to any HSE decision to impose conditions in future funding.

It’s understood the failed challenge left Positive Action with a legal bill in the order of €750,000.

More than 1,000 women in Ireland were infected with Hep C from contaminated blood product given to mothers whose blood group was different to their babies to prevent Haemolytic disease in the foetus of future pregnancies.

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