‘Inquiry of inquiry’ sees further delays

CONFUSION reigns over the timescale for the publication of the Hynes Report into the abuse of children with intellectual disabilities in institutions run by the Brothers of Charity in Galway.

Fine Gael spokesman on children Alan Shatter said yesterday that Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children John Maloney confirmed to him last Friday that the report would be published within three weeks.

However, a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Children said it was not in a position to say when the report, which has been with the department since last October, would be published as there were legal issues that needed to be examined.

Former secretary general at the Department of Social and Family Affairs, John Hynes was appointed in December 2007 to conduct an inquiry into the first inquiry concerning the abuse.

This first inquiry began in 1999, when the then Western Health Board was requested to investigate allegations of abuse in institutions run by the Brothers of Charity in Galway.

In April 1999, six people were appointed to the review group by the health board and asked to report on the situation.

However, by August 2001, all of the members appointed, apart from the chairperson, had either departed or resigned.

The chairperson eventually resigned in January 2006 without any report being completed.

Dr Kevin McCoy was then appointed by the Health Service Executive to review the work already carried out and furnish a report. This was finally done with the publication of the McCoy Report in November 2007.

In December 2007, John Hynes was asked to investigate the staggering eight-year delay in publishing any form of a report; why those appointed to the initial inquiry had resigned and whether the McCoy Report had adequately addressed the issues raised.

Mr Hynes was due to report by July 31, 2008, but only did so by October 31, 2008.

Speaking in the Dáil last Friday, Mr Shatter said the delay of eight years before any report was published was a “scandal”.

“We need to know what went wrong. The Western Health Board has already been the subject of a report on the Kelly Fitzgerald case in 1996,” Mr Shatter said

“At a time when a proper investigation was to be carried out into what was occurring in the Brothers of Charity institutions, it was the Western Health Board that was scandalously failing to provide the intervention and care needed for those children in Roscommon.”

Speaking yesterday, the Fine Gael spokesman on children said he had been given an assurance that the Hynes Report would be published within three weeks.

“I have been promised by the Minister for State John Maloney the report will be published within the next three weeks so we shall wait and see what’s in it.

“The fact we have had to have an inquiry into an inquiry highlights how there should have been an independent inquiry in the first place,” he said.

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