The Department of Health has said it has not ruled out the possibility of a Commission of Investigation into allegations of abuse at a former HSE-funded care facility.

RTÉ News has learned a whistleblower who informed the Dáil Public Accounts Committee of the abuse allegations had criticised the Government's response to the disclosure to date.

The committee was told of allegations that up to 40 vulnerable children were placed at risk of abuse over a 20-year period up to 2009 at a then HSE-funded care facility in the South East of the county.

The HSE had already commissioned its own reports - at a cost of more than €200,000 - into the claims, but these remain unpublished.

Junior Health Minister Kathleen Lynch has written to the whistleblower in recent weeks saying the HSE cannot publish these reports until a Garda investigation is completed.

Ms Lynch wrote too that a Senior Counsel will be appointed by the Department of Health to examine "the procurement issues" and the "approach taken in conducting" the HSE investigations.

But correspondence between the whistleblower and the minister seen by RTÉ News described this as "incredibly disappointing."

The whistleblower said a Commission of Investigation is required to examine the more substantive issues around the allegations.

Public Accounts Committee  Chairman John McGuinness said the allegations and State's response to them over decades requires a Commission of Investigation.

In a statment the Department of Health said "the appointment of Senior Counsel and appropriate terms of reference which take account of the ongoing Garda investigation are currently being finalised in accordance with legal advice.

"In advance of completion of the exercise by Senior Counsel the ministers have not ruled out the possibility of further investigations or the format these might take," the statement added.