Government to set up Commission of Inquiry into HSE abuse case

By Daniel McConnell and Elaine Loughlin

Update 5.43pm: According to a statement from the Government Press Office, Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Joan Burton have met to discuss the proposal from Ministers Varadkar and Lynch in the Department of Health.

“Both Ministers will attend cabinet tomorrow to outline their proposals for the establishment of a Commission of Investigation.”

Earlier: The Government has moved to establish a Statutory Commission of Inquiry into the 'savage' rape and abuse of physically and intellectually disabled children in a foster home in the South East.

Junior Health Minister Kathleen Lynch supported by Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar, is recommending that the Government establish a statutory Commission of Investigation.

The HSE has been on the back foot since the Irish Examiner revealed it had finally admitted liability in the standards of care of 'Grace', who languished in the foster home for 13 years after allegations were first raised.

The Commission will draw on the work currently underway by Senior Counsel Conor Dignam into the allegations of abuse at the foster home.

“The work that is underway by Mr Conor Dignam SC will greatly inform the drafting of the terms of reference for a Commission of Investigation”, said Minister Lynch.

“We need to be precise and focussed on the questions that remain unanswered.

“I strongly believe it is in the public interest that we establish the facts surrounding vulnerable people who were placed in this foster home”, said Minister Lynch.

Minister Lynch confirmed that additional resources have been approved in order to allow Mr Dignam expedite his ongoing review.

It is now anticipated that this will be completed by the end of April 2016.

Ministers Lynch and Varadkar are requesting copies of the Devine Report and the Resilience report from the HSE under section Section 40C of the Health Act 2004.

Following a meeting with HSE bosses, Ms Lynch said major failings in care standards occurred.

She said: “It is clear that there have been failures in protecting vulnerable people in our care.

“For a number of reasons, it has been difficult to establish the facts with certainty.

“This has been acknowledged and I am confident that through the Commission of Investigation we can resolve this.

“While this is very much in the public interest, it is also in the interest of those vulnerable people who are directly affected and their families."

KEYWORDS: abuse, HSE, foster home


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