Minister backs inquiry into abuse case
The setting up of a commission of inquiry into the case of a woman allegedly subjected to severe abuse in a foster home should be given serious consideration, Junior Health Minister Kathleen Lynch has said.
Her comments came after the head of the Dáil's Public Accounts Committee (PAC), John McGuinness, accused the HSE of lying about an apology supposedly offered to the woman.
The woman was among 47 children placed in the foster home between 1983 and 1995.
She was placed there in 1989 as an 11-year-old. Although the former South East Health Board was informed of allegations of abuse in the home in 1992, and new referrals were stopped in 1995, the woman was not removed by the HSE until 2009.
Ms Lynch said: "The critical question of why this young vulnerable person was left in the foster home until 2009 even though the most serious concerns had been raised about her remains the central issue."
She said the setting up of a commission of investigation should be considered after a senior council completes a review of matters related to two independent reviews commissioned by the HSE.
HSE director general Tony O'Brien is to appear before PAC on Tuesday to explain why the HSE claimed an apology had been issued to the woman when none had.
The HSE had insisted in a statement to PAC that an apology was made to the woman for failing in her care at a meeting in December.
However, those present at the meeting have confirmed no apology was made. Mr McGuinness said the episode showed a culture in the HSE of "circling the wagons and hiding behind all sorts of excuses, lies, misrepresentation and giving misleading statements".
Mr O'Brien said he would give a comprehensive answer to PAC. He said he has asked the HSE's social care division to look very carefully at the accusations so it could "get to the bottom of it" and that he could not say more until he had all the facts.
Neither of the two independent reviews commissioned by the HSE have been published to date. A separate Garda investigation is currently ongoing.