Health board must be investigated, says support group

SUPPORT group One in Four yesterday demanded an independent inquiry into how a health board in the southern half of the country dealt with allegations of child abuse against a school dentist employed by them.

Maeve Lewis, executive director with the charity, said: “I do not believe that the HSE itself could carry out an inquiry as it would seem that the health board dealt with the situation inappropriately.

“An inquiry is also necessary as it would appear that the number of alleged victims could be much higher than what have already come forward. These people need supports.”

The dentist worked in the school dental programme during the 1960s and 1970s. Ten complaints of abuse were made against him to the HSE since the mid-1980s, eight complaints were made to gardaí and several civil court settlements were made by the HSE. The DPP did not seek prosecutions in any of the criminal cases.

The health board has come under fire from victims and politicians for its failure to properly pursue the dentist.

Freedom of Information documentation published by the Irish Examiner yesterday showed how an investigating garda compared his efforts to acquire information from the health board as “like pulling teeth”.

Victims have long berated the health board for not completing a trawl of all former patients to see if more patients were abused as children. The dentist had sole care for up to 600 children and had requested that he treat children without the parents being present.

Another victim, Laura, who tried to take a criminal case against the dentist, contacted the Irish Examiner yesterday to describe how she was treated by the health board: “I went to see a senior manager about the difficulties I was facing accessing my dental records. The manager told me he knew nothing about the dentist. My complaint had been lodged months at that stage and there is no way a man of his seniority didn’t know what was going on.”

Another victim, Margaret, described how the same manager told her he had been warned by his predecessor that abuse complaints against the dentist were a ticking timebomb.

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