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Saturday 1 October 2016

Commission of Investigation recommended in foster home controversy

Shane Phelan, Public Affairs Editor

Published 01/02/2016 | 16:36

Deputy Commissioner for Operations, John Twomey, will carry out the investigation.
Deputy Commissioner for Operations, John Twomey, will carry out the investigation.

A Commission of Investigation has been recommended into matters relating to the care of children in a foster home in the southeast.

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Junior Health Minister Kathleen Lynch said she was recommending the measure to the Government with the support of Health Minister Leo Varadkar.

The announcement came after a meeting of both ministers with senior HSE officials today.

It is alleged children attending the foster home at the centre of the controversy were physically and sexually abused.

However, placements continued to be made even after health officials were made aware of abuse concerns.

Some 47 children were placed there by the health services between 1983 and 1995.

One woman with profound intellectual disabilities, was allowed remain there for 20 years, is believed to have suffered severe neglect and sexual abuse.

“It is clear that there have been failures in protecting vulnerable people in our care,” said Ms Lynch.

“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.”

Earlier, it emerged a senior garda had been tasked to examine allegations State employees may have acted in a criminal manner when placing vulnerable individuals with the foster family.

The examination was confirmed by Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan in a letter to the Dail Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

It is to be carried out by the Deputy Commissioner for Operations, John Twomey.

The move came after the PAC referred a report commissioned by the HSE to the commissioner.

Last week the PAC wrote to the commissioner, requesting an investigation into “the actions of State employees, which the committee believes may constitute potential criminal conduct, in placing vulnerable individuals with this foster family”.

It is claimed State employees allowed the placements despite “internal concerns raised by social workers and the receipt of information on the foster family from authorities in the UK”.

It is also claimed the State employees allowed vulnerable adults remain in the care of the foster family, despite being made aware of these concerns.

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