Members of the Public Accounts' Committee have criticised HSE Director General Tony O'Brien for giving the committee "misleading", "inaccurate" and "incomplete" information about the ‘Grace’ case.

Sinn Féin TD Mary Lou McDonald said: "I am concerned that the allegation is and it hasn't been refuted is that what we have witnessed here is a clique of HSE managers protecting themselves and the system at the expense of vulnerable children and young adults.

"I am concerned that reputations have been tampered with or destroyed."

The concerns were raised on the back of last Sunday's RTÉ This Week programme that found the HSE waited three years after the completion of a major report into the care of the vulnerable adult known as 'Grace' before contacting gardaí about publishing the report.

The HSE had told the committee that despite telling the Dáil they were prevented from making it public due to a request from the force.

HSE representatives were before the PAC today to discuss the HSE Patients' Private Property (PPP) accounts but committee chairperson Seán Fleming opened the meeting by questioning Mr O'Brien about the RTÉ This Week story.

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The Fianna Fáil TD said that in February 2016 Mr O'Brien told the PAC that the people who in 1996 overturned a decision to move Grace' were no longer State employees.

He noted that the RTÉ report last weekend indicated that the communication between the HSE and the gardaí commenced three years later.

"I want you to come back within seven days to clarify the accuracy or otherwise of your previous statement and reasons you arrived at those conclusions," said Mr Fleming.

However, Ms McDonald intervened and said that when Mr O'Brien appeared before the PAC before dealing with matters relating to ‘Grace’ and ‘Anne’ there was "confused information" presented to the committee at times in respect of the apologies or apologies not given.

‘Anne’ is a young woman with intellectual disabilities that continued to visit the 'Grace' foster home in the southeast up until 2015.

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Ms McDonald continued: "I am very concerned that inaccurate or misleading information has given to this committee by yourself in respect of the Devine Report and what you claimed was a garda insistence that reports couldn't be published and disciplinary actions could not be taken against HSE staff on the instruction or advice of An Garda Síochána.

"We now know because of an FOI by RTÉ that in fact there was no communication with the gardaí for a full three years.

"I am very concerned that you weren't complete in the information that you gave to this committee. I am concerned also that misleading information has been given to the committee in respect of those staff who were responsible for keeping ‘Grace’ in that foster home.

Sinn Féin's Mary Lou McDonald

"Is it the case that one or all of those responsible still work within the public sector? We need to know if that is true or not.

"I am concerned that the allegation is and it hasn't been refuted is that what we have witnessed here is a clique of HSE managers protecting themselves and the system at the expense of vulnerable children and young adults. I am concerned that reputations have been tampered with or destroyed.

She said to Mr O'Brien that she is also concerned because "at every stage you were at the helm of the HSE and it strikes me that you came to this committee and gave at the very least gave incomplete information and that does nothing to build confidence in yourself and the discharge of your duties".

Ms McDonald said that given the fact that the terms of reference are before the Oireachtas today, she thought it important that Mr O'Brien answered the questions today.

Ms McDonald said she expected that the questions would be answered fully today.

However, Mr O'Brien said he has not re-read all the transcripts and equipped himself fully with the answers that the committee would expect.

He said it would be prudent for him to provide a written answer or come back before the committee within seven days rather than answer questions today.

Committee Chair Seán Fleming said it was important that fair procedure would be followed and Mr O'Brien was not on notice to answer questions on the 'Grace' case.