Gardaí to consider possible probe into Kerry mental health service failings

Gardaí To Consider Possible Probe Into Kerry Mental Health Service Failings
Emergency Services Stock, © PA Archive/PA Images
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By Dominic McGrath and Cate McCurry, PA

Gardaí are to consider whether there are grounds to begin a criminal investigation following a highly critical review of south Kerry mental health services.

Earlier, Micheál Martin has said he will pursue a “non-adversarial” mechanism to deal with Kerry mental health services.


The Taoiseach said the issues will be handled in an “efficient, effective and empathetic” manner.

A review of the care of more than 1,300 children under the South Kerry Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (Camhs), published this week, found that 46 youngsters suffered significant harm.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) report found that hundreds of children received “risky” treatment by a doctor working in the service.

Chrildren’s mental health
A review of the care of more than 1,300 children under the South Kerry Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service found 46 suffered significant harm (Gareth Fuller/PA)

On Friday evening, a Garda spokesperson said that gardai in Kerry are “in receipt of the detailed and extensive final report, which will now be considered in the context of whether there are grounds to commence a criminal investigation”.

“An Garda Síochána is fully aware of the impact this report has had on a number of families within the Kerry Division.”

The spokesperson said that any parent or guardian of a child who believe they may have suffered harm should contact gardaí.


“Any contacts will be treated sensitively and with the strictest confidence,” the statement said.

“The Divisional Protective Services Unit in Kerry will engage with each of the families involved and the specific circumstances of their individual case.

“An assessment will be carried out by the specialist team within the DPSU to determine whether the complaint reaches the threshold to commence a criminal investigation.”

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said families affected by the issues will be given financial compensation.


Cabinet is due to discuss the details of the report on Tuesday.

Speaking at an event in Cork on Friday, Mr Martin said he has had “preliminary discussions” with Attorney General Paul Gallagher about how to approach the findings.

“We will be looking at a non-adversarial mechanism to deal with this and to address this issue,” Mr Martin said.

“The specifics of that will have to be worked out, but the objective of Government is to address these issues in a non-adversarial way.


“That could involve a mediated approach or mediation mechanism, but we will look at a range of mechanisms to achieve that in the most efficient, effective and empathetic manner possible.”


He added: “What happened shouldn’t have happened.

“There is a whole range of issues that flow from it, but the report is clear that harm was done to children, and that issue has to be addressed.

“I think we do want to explore mechanisms with those affected in terms of addressing legitimate issues.”

Mr Martin said there will be “accountability” for mistakes made.

He said mental health services need to be examined and a nationwide audit of Camhs will be carried out.

“What emerges from the report is not just one doctor… it’s much broader than that, and that’s what gives real concern – that it took far too long for any intervention to happen,” the Fianna Fáil leader added.


The 2021 annual report by Ireland’s Special Rapporteur on Child Protection said child mental health services have been affected by a lack of financial resources.

Mr Martin, however, rejected this, saying that “substantial funding” has been provided to services for a number of years.

“The difficulty is in recruiting senior psychiatrists to child and adolescent centres – that has become a particular problem,” he added.

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“The resources have been put in place for multi-disciplinary teams, and we are providing resources.

“The posts have not followed the allocation of funding and some of that is due to the general difficulty in the recruiting of clinicians, particularly in the area of psychiatry.

“We need a more detailed analysis.”

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