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Thursday 18 September 2014

Health board bungled incest case says new report

DON LAVERY

Published 31/08/1998 | 00:11

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THE North Western Health Board is expected to be heavily criticised for its handling of the McColgan sex abuse case where a father abused his children over 17 years in a report due to be published this week.

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THE North Western Health Board is expected to be heavily criticised for its handling of the McColgan sex abuse case where a father abused his children over 17 years in a report due to be published this week.

The report is expected to blame the board's failure to protect the children on a prevailing ethos of keeping families together and a reluctance to intervene legally.

It is written by an expert group headed by Michael Bruton, chief executive of Focus Ireland, which was set up to review the board's involvement in the case.

Yesterday a Sunday newspaper reported that the lack of an integrated approach between hospital staff, GPs and social workers would be blamed for the failure to protect the family and that information was not properly collated.

The report is said to urge the Government to put in place legal structures to allow healthcare staff to interview and or medically examine children considered to be at risk in schools or elsewhere without parental permission.

Last night the board's chief executive officer Manus Ward said he would not comment until the report is published on Wednesday.

The report is also believed to point to major shortcomings in the way the board dealt with the case and suggests that there was an ethos of minimal legal intervention in child protection cases.

It warns that much remains to be done to achieve the gold standards of child protection set out in the 1991 Child Care Act.

The group was set up in 1995 after West of Ireland farmer Joe McColgan was jailed for 12 years for a sickening catalogue of physical and sexual attacks on the children.

The McGolgan children, Sophia, Gerard, Michelle and Keith from Co Sligo received around £1m earlier this year after they sued the North Western Health Board and a local GP in a settlement after a gruelling 13-day High Court case. Neither party admitted liability.

The family are still traumatised by the brutality administered by their father from the mid-70s to the early '90s in a family home which was likened by psychiatrist Professor Ivor Browne as being akin to a Nazi concentration camp.

Health authorities knew about McColgan's violence since 1979 when his young daughter was admitted to hospital with a broken nose.

In 1984, one social worker wrote that the degree of physical and sexual abuse was at a ``an extraordinary level''.

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