Monday 29 May 2017

Government and HSE accused of delay on Console

Education Minister Richard Bruton said the irregularities at Console had been discovered by the HSE’s systems, which then led on to a full HSE audit (Stock image)
Education Minister Richard Bruton said the irregularities at Console had been discovered by the HSE’s systems, which then led on to a full HSE audit (Stock image)
John Downing

John Downing

The Government and the HSE were accused of being too slow in dealing with the crisis at Console in Dáil exchanges yesterday.

Fianna Fáil's Michael McGrath also demanded that the Government guarantee that the service will continue and asked if the charity itself could continue.

Mr McGrath said the suicide-counselling service had been the focus of an appalling abuse of both public trust and public money.

While acknowledging that a meeting took place yesterday, involving senior HSE officials, ministerial advisers and the charities regulator, he said: "But it is two weeks after the RTÉ investigation."

Mr McGrath said the charity's 12 full-time counsellors and six part-time staff had provided 5,500 one-to-one counselling sessions last year.

He called on the Government to confirm that services would be sustained and asked whether Console would continue or would be merged into other organisations.

Replying for the Government, the Education Minister Richard Bruton said there a high-level meeting had taken place yesterday.

He said the irregularities at Console had been discovered by the HSE's systems, which then led on to a full HSE audit.

Mr Bruton acknowledged that the problems might have been detected sooner and said that this was now part of the investigation. He added that the Government's main focus was on sustaining anti-suicide support services.

Investigation

Separately, the Government was also accused in the Dáil of continuing to "bully and bullyrag" victims of child sex abuse by threatening them with huge court costs unless they dropped their compensation claims.

Sinn Féin's deputy leader, Mary Lou McDonald, said 210 people out of a total of 250 with compensation cases had been obliged to drop their claims.

She said the State Claims Agency had told them that they faced tens of thousands of euro in court costs.

Mr Bruton replied that many victims had received ex gratia payments and that he could not give any guarantees on cases before the courts.

Irish Independent

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