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DPP rules out charges over foster care abuse allegations


John McGuinness

John McGuinness

John McGuinness

No one is to face charges following a Garda inquiry into allegations of abuse in a foster home in the south east.

The Director of Public Prosecutions made the decision following a Garda investigation into the claims, which relate to up to 40 children and span two decades.

Officers informed the head of the Dáil Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the DPP's direction in recent days.

PAC chairman John McGuinness had made a statement to gardaí after coming into possession of information related to the case.

The completion of the investigation should pave the way for two HSE-commissioned reports related to the allegations to be published.

However, Mr McGuinness expressed concerns about the scope of the Garda investigation, saying he was not satisfied that it dealt with allegations the abuse had been covered up by health service staff.

Mr McGuinness said he had been informed that it focused on the alleged perpetrators of the abuse, rather than on failings by health service staff to intervene when they were made aware of abuse allegations.

PAC vice chairman John Deasy has previously alleged, under privilege, that "there was a clique in the HSE for a number of years which shoved all of this under the rug".

The former health board was alerted to allegations of sexual abuse at the foster home in the mid-1990s.

But a vulnerable girl was allowed to remain there for a further 13 years. "The HSE knew about it and have known about it for years and nobody is going to be penalised for that. This situation is unreal," said Mr McGuinness.

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"No one has been fired or sanctioned. No one has even been told off."

Speaking at the launch of a PAC report on HSE procurement, Mr McGuinness said gardaí only interviewed the parents and guardians of a number of children who had been in foster care placements.

Specialist expertise was not sought to interview the children.

The Garda and HSE-commissioned investigations were sparked after two staff at a voluntary organisation made protected disclosures in 2009 and 2010.

PAC has raised concerns about the use of former health service staff to conduct investigations and the lack of tendering involved.

One of the key recommendations of its procurement report is that the HSE no longer hires former staff to carry out sensitive investigations into failings in the health service.

The publication of the report comes just days after Health Minister Leo Varadkar announced he would be appointing a senior counsel to examine the procurement process and the approach taken in conducting the two reviews.

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