Whistleblower disputes HSE claims on ‘Grace’

Tony O'Brien: Evidence has been disputed by whistleblower.

The HSE knew gardaí had no issue with a damning report into the Grace sex abuse scandal being published as far back as 2011 but only published it this year, it has emerged.

Serious concerns about claims made by the head of the HSE about the foster sex abuse scandal have been raised by the whistlblower at the heart of the case.

Writing in today’s Irish Examiner, the whistleblower has identified serious and significant inconsistencies in public statements given by HSE director general Tony O’Brien.

Mr O’Brien and other HSE officials are to appear before the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) today to correct the record in relation to earlier evidence given in relation to the Grace case.

But in her article, the whistleblower says the authors of the Conal Devine report were told by gardaí in 2011 that they had “no issue” with the report being published.

She writes: “In justifying a three-year delay from when it received the report to when it sought such clearance from An Garda Síochána, the HSE maintains it was because of the standard practice of not publishing reports while there were ongoing Garda investigations.

“Given this formal correspondence from gardaí in 2011, setting out that there was no objection to publication, why did the HSE choose to maintain ‘standard practice’ of non-publication- instead of seeking clarification from gardaí before I made my protected disclosure in 2015?” she asks.

The whistleblower has also directly disputed evidence given by Mr O’Brien about those responsible for leaving Grace in the home who he claimed no longer worked in the public service.

Last year, Mr O’Brien told the PAC that the decision to leave her was made by a three-person panel.

She says the Devine Report does identify three people who made this decision (referred to as H7, H6 & H4), but reveals that one of them is still working in the public service.

“The HSE, in a written response to PAC this week, maintains that Mr O’Brien was instead referring to three people who were responsible for the decision to leave Grace there and were also involved the failure to follow-up on agreed actions (H7, H3 & H12),” she says.

“The HSE’s narrative on this is difficult to accept and is clearly at odds with the information previously provided to the PAC,” she says.

The whistleblower states that the Devine report did not find that H12 was party to the decision.

“How can the HSE now claim that the three people he referred to as making the decision to leave her there included H12, when Devine does not make this finding?

“How can the PAC be expected to accept that Mr O’Brien was referring to a panel involving H12, when there was no finding that H12 was party to the decision?” she asks.

More on this topic

Grace inquiry leaves witness in ‘dire financial situation’Grace inquiry leaves witness in ‘dire financial situation’

Interview delays and discovery of thousands of new files postpones 'Grace' findings until May 2020Interview delays and discovery of thousands of new files postpones 'Grace' findings until May 2020

Grace probe delayed due to scale of findingsGrace probe delayed due to scale of findings

Unending, inconclusive public inquiries another form of abuseUnending, inconclusive public inquiries another form of abuse


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