Harney orders nepotism probe inside the HSE
Move follows revelations in this newspaper of 'jobs for relatives' culture in the health service
THE Health Service Executive (HSE) is investigating charges of nepotism against senior managers in at least four offices around the country, it has emerged.
In the wake of the revelation in the Sunday Independent last week that four children of managers in a Cork office were appointed to positions without advertisement, Health Minster Mary Harney called on the HSE top brass to investigate the claims.
HSE chairman Liam Downey and chief executive Brendan Drumm have asked for a review of the manner in which a number of people were appointed to temporary positions as community welfare officers (CWOs) and clerical officers in its south and mid-west regions.
The Sunday Independent has established that at least seven positions, four in Cork and three in Limerick, were filled by relatives of HSE staff.
But it has emerged this weekend that an office in the south-east and an office in the west are also now under review after a small number of temporary posts have been filled by relations of senior management.
Speaking to the Sunday Independent, Mary Harney's spokesman said: "The minister would of course want public service norms for recruitment to be adhered to in all respects and she will be informed of the outcome of the HSE examination."
Prof Drumm has sought clarification as to whether HSE procedures were breached in the manner in which such staff were recruited. The positions became available as part of the Back To School clothing and footwear scheme.
Normal HSE recruitment policy dictates that all vacancies are filled by open competition, with posts advertised in national and local media as well as on the HSE's own website.
None of the 13 temporary positions as Grade 3 clerical officers in the HSE South region were advertised, while the vacancies in Limerick were only advertised to existing staff. The "vast majority" of 15 temporary CWOs working in Limerick were family members and friends of HSE staff.
Among those to be appointed to jobs, which carry an annual salary of over €29,000, were Rosaleen Walsh, daughter of HSE project officer Ignatius Walsh; Killian O'Sullivan, husband of HSE CWO Geraldine O'Rourke; and Kevin Gaffney, husband of HSE CWO Anne Mulcair.
Among those to obtain jobs with a salary of over €23,000 in the HSE South area were Orlaith Healy, the daughter of HSE South regional director of operations Pat Healy; Gillian O'Brien, daughter of HSE South assistant national director of human resources Barry O'Brien; Richard Laide, son of HSE South senior finance official Mick Laide; and Mark O'Donovan, son of HSE head of procurement John O'Donovan.
Fine Gael health spokesman Dr James Reilly described the revelations as "blatant examples of nepotism". HSE South said it had applied the code of practice for emergency short-term appointments to fill its vacancies due to the short timeframe involved.
Such a code allows the HSE to hire staff from people whose CVs are on file.