O'Brien to meet PAC over foster home abuse scandalFriday 29 January 2016 22.38
The whistle-blower at the centre of the foster home abuse scandal in the South-East has welcomed the decision of the HSE's Director General Tony O’Brien to attend a Public Accounts Committee hearing on the matter.
Meanwhile, the Minister of State Kathleen Lynch said she believes that we're "heading" towards a public inquiry into allegations that a profoundly disabled woman was sexually and physically abused in the home for 13 years after all other residents were removed from it.
The latest developments in this foster home abuse scandal come a day after members of the Dáil's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) accused the HSE of lying to it in correspondence last December when it said a meeting had been arranged at which the alleged victim was to receive an apology.
However, the woman's social worker, the whistle-blower who had brought the case to the TDs' attention, denied this on RTÉ Radio saying there had been no such apology to either the woman, who is profoundly disabled, or to her mother.
It also emerged that both the local senior HSE officials in the South-East who were at the meeting concerned told their bosses no apology had been approved or issued.
As the controversy deepened last Tuesday evening, the HSE said it had issued a written apology to all concerned in the woman's case having already done so last December in the cases of the 46 other families whose children had been placed in the home.
The HSE’s Mr O'Brien said he will be meeting the PAC next week and that no further comment is possible until he familiarises himself with all details of the case.
In the meantime, he has asked the HSE's Social Care Division to examine what has been said "so we can get to the bottom of it".
A PAC source said the hearing was expected to take place on Tuesday at noon.
Meanwhile, a nationwide lobby group for disabled people, Inclusion Ireland, has backed the call by Barnardos' CEO Fergus Finlay for the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry into the abuse scandal.
The lobby group's CEO Paddy Connolly alleged that the Minister of State Kathleen Lynch and her senior minister, Leo Varadkar, have not been communicating about the matter.
He urged that a Commission of Inquiry should not simply look at what happened, but also at whether the appropriate supports have been put in place for the families concerned and to make recommendations in that regard.
Inclusion Ireland said official figures record that 348 people with intellectual disability were in foster care or 'boarding out arrangements' in 2014.