Simon Harris's ‘flawed narrative’ on Grace sex abuse scandal

Health Minister Simon Harris

One of the whistleblowers at the heart of the Grace sex abuse scandal has called on Health Minister Simon Harris to correct what she has called misleading information, given on television last weekend.

Mr Harris appeared on RTÉ’s The Week In Politics on Sunday and was pressed about the HSE’s handling of the scandal.

During exchanges, Mr Harris said that no one who was in a position of responsibility in relation to Grace’s care is still employed in the health service or Tusla.

“My understanding is that people who were in positions of responsibility and made direct decisions in relation to Grace, and significantly, adverse decisions, no longer work in the health service or Tusla. That is what I have been told,” he said.

But the whistleblower pointed out on Twitter to Mr Harris that as many as 11 people in the HSE and Tusla are now under investigation over their role in the Grace case.

“It’s a matter of public record — 11 people are under investigation (Tusla&HSE) following Devine Report publication [one of two internal HSE reports on Grace scandal],” she tweeted to Mr Harris.

“There were crucial decisions over many yrs. Some people involved in various decisions continue in HSE and Tusla.”

The whistleblower then accused the minister of giving a “flawed narrative” into what happened to Grace, saying as minister he should know the truth.

“The point is more that the minister continues a flawed narrative. He should know, and speak, the truth. Harris was told those who made crucial decisions in Grace case no longer in health service. Who is lying to Minister?” she asked.

Mr Harris did not respond to the whistleblower on Twitter.

Contacted by the Irish Examiner, the minister’s spokeswoman said the information relayed by him on RTÉ was information given to him by the HSE.

Mr Harris had said that if all the issues related to the case were confirmed, then there would be no need for a Commission of Inquiry, she added.

“If all of the facts were extraordinarily clear, then we would not need a Commission of Investigation,” he said.

The criticism of Mr Harris comes as the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) waits to receive a response from Tony O’Brien, director general of the HSE.

Mr O’Brien was subjected to severe criticism from PAC members, including Mary Lou McDonald.

Considerable inconsistencies exist between the HSE’s evidence to the PAC and one of the main reports into the Grace foster abuse scandal, it has been claimed.

The whistleblower also said she does not believe there is “any evidence” to suggest failures on behalf of Michael Noonan.

She said she had seen much of the documentation held by the Department of Health in relation to the case during the 1990s, when Mr Noonan was health minister.

She said that if she did believe Mr Noonan was culpable, she would call on him to resign.

“I see no evidence that Michael Noonan interfered with, or indeed that he ever sought to interfere in this case,” she said.

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