Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Tuesday, 2 February 2016
Public Accounts Committee
HSE Report on Foster Home in Waterford Community Care Area: Discussion
Mr. Tony O'Brien:
At some point - I do not know whether it will be in three, six or 12 months - the Garda Síochána will clear publication of these reports. They will be published. As I understand it, the Government discussed today - but I do not know the outcome of the discussion - the setting up of the commission of inquiry or investigation that the two Ministers announced yesterday they would be recommending. As a result of exercising their rights under section 40 by end of play today, my office will have provided the Ministers with the copies of the reports we are talking about. They will be as hamstrung about their publication as I am. The report by Mr. Conor Dignam SC will be available, I suspect, by the time of the next meeting of the Committee of Public Accounts. That will inform the proposals that will have to go to the Oireachtas for the establishment of the commission of inquiry. If I get clearance to publish the reports, they will be published. Disciplinary action, hearings and all of the normal process will follow as a result of that, provided I am not prevented from doing so in respect of any individual case by a pending criminal prosecution. There are currently situations to do with things not quite as horrendous as this, but almost as bad, where we are holding off on disciplinary action, having placed people off work on protective leave, while matters are before the courts. That is exactly the course of action that will be pursued once we are in a position to publish these reports. Unfortunately that position does not yet exist. If at any point I have authority to publish the report and I do not do so, then of course I will be accountable for not having done so. I do not yet have that authority.