Coveney: Those who failed to protect vulnerable children should offer resignations

A senior Minister has led the calls for resignations in the HSE of those who mishandled allegations of abuse of disabled children at a foster home in the South East.

Coveney: Those who failed to protect vulnerable children should offer resignations

By Daniel McConnell, Political Editor

A senior Minister has led the calls for resignations in the HSE of those who mishandled allegations of abuse of disabled children at a foster home in the South East.

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney has said that those who failed to adequately protect the most vulnerable children should be offering their resignations.

The Cork South-Central TD was speaking as the Cabinet is expected to sign off on a Commission of Inquiry into allegations of the most savage abuse at the foster home.

Senior HSE officers who were in place when allegations of savage abuse against disabled children were first raised remain at their posts in the health service, it emerged last night.

Given a failure by the HSE to adequately clarify matters involving the foster home, and a succession of conflicting information, the Government last night announced its intention to establish a statutory Commission of Investigation into the abuse allegations.

HSE bosses will this morning have to account for the failure to sanction those who allowed vulnerable disabled children remain in a foster home in the South East after serious abuse allegations had been made.

They will be appearing before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) which was misled by the HSE over whether an apology was given to one person, 'Grace', who was left in the foster home for 13 years after concerns were raised.

Under-fire Junior Health Minister Kathleen Lynch admitted that many of the managers who were in place when allegations surfaced remain in their posts and no sanction has been handed out, despite the clear failings in care.

She also admitted last night that she has not yet seen the contents of two HSE-sponsored reports into the allegations of abuse, despite them being completed in 2012 and 2015.

She insisted the HSE was precluded from sharing the reports with her because of ongoing Garda investigations.

Her senior minster, Leo Varadkar, yesterday invoked a section of the Health Act which permits the release of the report to him and Ms Lynch.

Behind the scenes, Minister Varadkar is said to be most uneasy as to the lack of verifiable information relating to the handling of the abuse allegations.

Having cleared his diary to investigate the matter, Minister Varadkar spoke to one of the whistle-blowers at the heart of 'Grace's' case before having a two-hour meeting with HSE Director General Tony O'Brien.

Following that meeting, Mr Varadkar and Ms Lynch immediately contacted Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Joan Burton, arguing that a Commission of Investigation was needed.

The matter will be discussed at Cabinet this morning before Mr Kenny formally orders the dissolution of the Dáil, clearing the way for the General Election.

Update 11.31am: Minister for Social Care Kathleen Lynch has already met with HSE Director General Tony O'Brien.

“We asked was there anything else we needed to know, and that’s very hard to determine,” she said.

“We also asked why I hadn’t been told the full details – there seems to be a sort of drip, drip, drip effect.

“And at that point I had already decided that we should have a Commission of Investigation because I’m not certain that we’ll get the full facts, even if they are available, and I’m not certain they’re not.”

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