The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) says it has contacted gardaí to report allegations of serious abuse at a residential centre for disabled adults in Co Kilkenny.

The Camphill Centre at Ballytobin, near Callan, has now been taken over by the HSE following three inspection reports carried out this year by HIQA.

The centre was set up in 1979 and currently has 19 residents, some of whom have been there for more than 30 years. All except one - a teenager - are adults.

The authority alleges that due to ongoing and significant failings to ensure residents were adequately safeguarded from the risk of abuse, it made the decision to cancel the centre’s registration last month.

HIQA says that following an inspection there last October, they were told of alleged incidents of intimate care and physical restraint practices in the centre, which could be considered abusive.

HIQA was subsequently informed of a number of allegations of abuse of vulnerable people.

The authority said that due to the serious nature of the alleged incidents, inspectors made the decision to inform gardaí. They said they also contacted Tusla - the Child and Family Agency, and the HSE’s National Safeguarding Office.

However, speaking tonight to RTÉ, gardaí said that no complaints have been made to them as a result of the HIQA investigation at Ballytobin.

In a statement, the Camphill Centre said it accepts the report’s findings.

Ballytobin was operated by the Camphill Communities of Ireland as a therapeutic community for people with multiple disabilities.

In a statement, the HSE said it took over management of the centre on Tuesday 6 June and said that the welfare of the 19 service users is "a priority for the HSE".

The health service said it intends to keep the residential care centre open and to ensure that all 19 service users will remain in their home at Ballytobin, if they so wish.

The statement also said that a HSE review is under way "examining Camphill Communities of Ireland (CCI) across all of its locations in the Republic of Ireland".

The statement added: "The HSE is ensuring that the serious concerns noted by HIQA in its Inspection Reports on Ballytobin (carried out in May 2017 and published today) will be fully addressed, with an immediate focus on safeguarding.

"Earlier last month, the HSE was made aware of deliberations between HIQA and the Camphill Communities of Ireland Ltd, arising from the authority's inspections of the Camphill centre at Ballytobin.

"At a subsequent meeting, HIQA issued Camphill with a Notice of Decision to cancel the registration of its premises at Ballytobin. Camphill management accepted the decision of the independent regulator in this regard and waived their right of appeal. 

 "The HSE subsequently prepared an action plan and submitted it to the chief inspector in HIQA. The action plan set out interim measures being taken with the consent of the provider at Ballytobin to improve safeguarding in the centre.

"The actions included the allocation of an experienced HSE manager to the centre, in addition to that of additional, experienced professional staff in each of the houses on a 24 hour basis and the deployment of two HSE safeguarding officers to be based in the centre. These measures were put in place to mitigate risk."