Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Tuesday, 2 February 2016
Public Accounts Committee
HSE Report on Foster Home in Waterford Community Care Area: Discussion
Let us stick with the individuals who made that decision. It is probably a good example. Mr. O'Brien is probably aware of comments that Ministers have made in recent days on individuals who made the mistakes about which we are speaking and who were responsible, in large part, for the neglect, poor care and, potentially, the very serious sexual abuse that occurred or is alleged. To cut to the chase, outside of Garda investigations and commissions of investigation, there are people still in the system, by which I mean the HSE, who have graduated to other organisations dealing with child protection whose work and involvement in this, in some cases, go back to the 1990s. They are still in the system and are still dealing with children and making very serious decisions at a very senior level when it comes to children. What is Mr. O'Brien doing about this? I want him to answer this question, considering he is the director general of the organisation. What is he doing? He must have concerns that if there are people who are responsible for this and for the neglect, as he put it, the poor care and the failings then surely the most basic and obvious step would be to have these people step aside until any investigation is concluded.
The public interest dimension of this now requires, in my opinion, these people to step aside while an investigation is concluded. What is not tolerable by the public at this point is for those people who were responsible for this to continue in their jobs, based on the fact they still have senior positions dealing with child protection in this country. If Mr. O'Brien's organisation does not understand this, it understands nothing. This is really, I think, the kernel of the matter today. Mr. O'Brien should probably have addressed it in his opening statement, and I am surprised he did not. Before he leaves the committee room, he will have to address this and satisfy the members of the committee that the individuals involved and responsible for this will account for themselves. That is critical, necessary and obvious.