Statement by Minister Kathleen Lynch on a foster home in the South East
Kathleen Lynch, Minister for Primary Care, Social Care and Mental Health, supported by Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar, is recommending that the Government establish a statutory Commission of Investigation into events in a foster home in the South East.
“The work that is underway by Mr Conor Dignam SC will greatly inform the drafting of the Terms of Reference for a Commission of Investigation. We need to be precise and focussed on the questions that remain unanswered. I strongly believe it is in the public interest that we establish the facts surrounding vulnerable people who were placed in this foster home”, said Minister Lynch.
Minister Lynch confirmed that additional resources have been approved in order to allow Mr Dignam expedite his ongoing review. It is now anticipated that this will be completed by the end of April 2016.
Ministers Lynch and Varadkar are requesting copies of the Devine Report and the Resilience report from the HSE under section Section 40C of the Health Act 2004 (as amended).
“Mr Dignam has had access to these two reports in completing his review. We believe that direct access by us to these reports – using these legislative powers – will greatly assist us in understanding the facts surrounding the disturbing allegations about events in a foster home in the south east of the country which have been the subject of much attention recently “, said Minister Lynch.
Commenting on a meeting with the HSE this afternoon which was also attended by Minister Varadkar, Minister Lynch said: “It is clear that there have been failures in protecting vulnerable people in our care. For a number of reasons, it has been difficult to establish the facts with certainty. This has been acknowledged and I am confident that through the Commission of Investigation we can resolve this. While this is very much in the public interest, it is also in the interest of those vulnerable people who are directly affected and their families. “
Note to Editor:
A Commission of Investigation requires a vote of the Oireachtas.
Section 40C of the Health Act is set out below.
Section 40C of the Health Act (2004) as amended
40C.— (1) The Minister may, where he or she considers it necessary in the public interest to do so for the performance of his or her functions (whether under this Act or otherwise), require the Executive to furnish him or her with such information or documents as he or she may specify that are in the Executive’s procurement, possession or control, and the Executive shall do so within any period that the Minister may specify and, in any event, without delay.
(2) Nothing contained in an enactment, and no rule of law, which would require obtaining the consent of a person in order for the Executive to furnish the Minister with information or documents under this Part, shall operate to prohibit or render unlawful such furnishing, notwithstanding that no such consent has been obtained.
(3) Nothing contained in an enactment, and no rule of law, relating to the non-disclosure or confidentiality of information or documents, shall operate to prohibit the Executive from furnishing the Minister with information or documents under this Part, or render such furnishing unlawful.
(4) Nothing contained in an enactment, and no rule of law, relating to the hearing of proceedings otherwise than in public shall operate to—
(a) prohibit the Executive from furnishing the Minister, under this Part, with information or documents prepared in relation to, or given in evidence in, such proceedings, whether the proceedings were brought before or after the commencement of this Part, or
(b) render such furnishing unlawful.