In a society that pays a very heavy price for its deep aversion to regulation or, dread the thought, policing, the Health Information and Quality Authority is a wonderful example of what can be achieved when a set of common goals are described in legislation and made real by enforcement.
Hiqa yesterday published 22 inspection reports which, in a country that shies away from public accountability, is an achievement in itself. That the reports recorded no major issues in any of those settings is an achievement too. That during 22 inspections, inspectors found a good level of compliance with the regulations and standards in 12 centres is reassuring, though not entirely so.
That five of the institutions found wanting are run by Catholic orders is significant. At a time when these orders are hardly overrun with applicants for a religious life, is it time to reconsider their capabilities in these areas? That may be easier said than done however, as the State has often been happy to allow charities to do the work more rightly an obligation of Official Ireland.
It is not to downplay the issues raised, but in the context of our history of abuse in institutions, they are relatively minor. That Hiqa has recorded and highlighted them now all but assures they will be dealt with properly and quickly — a situation that not only offers security for those reliant on those institutions, but to their families too. Policing works.