A report into claims that €600,000 in agency funding was cut after whistleblowers exposed the Grace foster abuse scandal is being delayed because the HSE wants to remove some of its “true and accurate” conclusions. The allegation has been made by two whistleblowers at the centre of the case in a letter to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
In the correspondence sent to the PAC, the whistleblowers claim the delay in releasing the report is because HSE officials are questioning key findings. While saying the conclusions are “true and accurate”, their letter, which has been seen by the Irish Examiner said the HSE officials claim the information should not be released as it falls outside the independent Deloitte report’s terms of reference.
“[Independent accountancy firm] Deloitte completed a draft report in May [which was due in March], which we were broadly happy with,” the whistleblowers’ letter read.
“However, the HSE has rejected the draft report as proposed by Deloitte, seeking certain details — although true and accurate — to be removed, claiming the report has strayed beyond its terms of reference.
“It is clear that when the HSE agreed to an independent audit to answer the questions posed by the committee [the PAC], they mistakenly thought it would produce a favourable report in line with their own farcical internal audit in 2014. Now that they don’t like the answer, they are clearly trying to cover it up.”
The report into whether the HSE had cut funding for the agency charged with Grace’s care was sought by HSE director general Tony O’Brien in February 2016.
The High Court later awarded Grace €6.3m in damages and ordered the HSE to refund the agency €600,000 after it found its funding had been cut.
At a PAC meeting in late March, Mr O’Brien said the Deloitte report would be published “imminently”.
However, he yesterday told Independent TD Catherine Connolly, Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy, Sinn Féin TD David Cullinane, and Fianna Fáil TD Shane Cassels he had been “misled” and promised it would now be published by the end of June. Questioned by Ms Murphy, Mr O’Brien said the HSE has not questioned the report’s findings, but that some individuals involved may be doing so. While he said the HSE wants to uncover exactly what happened through the probe, Mr Cassels responded: “That’s a bit like Trump saying to [former FBI chief James] Comey ‘I hope you’re not going to pursue this [the Russia links investigation]’.”
Yesterday’s meeting was also told that an unknown number of HSE officials are now in a “disciplinary process” over the wider scandal.
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