Probe into Michael Noonan’s handling of claims

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan has told the former Fine Gael member who made a complaint over Finance Minister Michael Noonan’s handling of health service abuse claims 20 years ago that the allegation will be examined.

Probe into Michael Noonan’s handling of claims

The private secretary to the Garda commissioner, Superintendent Frank Walsh, confirmed the move in a letter to the former Waterford councillor Garry O’Halloran, after receiving correspondence from him earlier this week.

As previously reported, Mr O’Halloran wrote to Commissioner O’Sullivan on Monday asking for gardaí to “conduct an investigation into the conduct” during the 1990s of then health minister, Mr Noonan, as well as south eastern health board officials.

The former councillor had asked the senior garda to take “personal control” of any examination and said it related to “their behaviour in respect of their handling of ‘Grace’s’ situation” and “the particular foster care facility from 1992 up to and including the present”.

Mr O’Halloran has in recent weeks repeatedly raised issues in relation to Mr Noonan’s handling of the separate Monageer abuse case in Waterford during the 1990s, as well as concerns over what happened in relation to alleged abuse at a foster home in the same county.

Mr Noonan has rejected any suggestion the matters were not properly investigated while he was health minister, and has said he will comply with a commission of investigation due to be set up into the foster home case.

The Department of Health has said Mr Noonan was not involved in the decision to allow ‘Grace’s’ placement to continue.

In a letter responding to Mr O’Halloran, Supt Walsh said that the matter will be examined, but did not clarify whether an investigation will be established.

“I am directed by the commissioner to acknowledge receipt of your email correspondence dated February 22, 2016, which has been forwarded to deputy commissioner of operations, An Garda Síochána, for appropriate attention,” the letter read.

The correspondence emerged as two women whose sister was placed in the same foster care home as ‘Grace’ urged other families who believe their relatives may have been similarly affected to contact them to pool information.

Bridget and Margaret, whose second names have not been released in order to protect their relative’s identity, made the request on RTE Radio One’s Liveline programme on Thursday.

The radio programme also aired another interview yesterday with a person who raised questions about how her own unrelated abuse was handled by authorities when she was a teenager.

The sisters said they have not been kept fully informed of what is happening in the investigation into the foster care home, and that they want affected families to come together in order to share their experiences and understanding of what is taking place.

However, the HSE has said it has already provided support to relatives of the 47 people who were at the foster home between 1983 and 2013.

“The contact details for the HSE chief officer for the area were provided and the families affected were invited to make contact if they wished to discuss any aspect of their dealings with the foster family, or if they or their family members required further support,” a HSE spokesperson said.

“A number of families have made contact to date and this offer of support remains available.

“Families requiring support should not hesitate to contact the chief officer in this regard,” the HSE spokesperson added.

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