Thursday, 1 April 2021
Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions
The Tánaiste has rightly acknowledged that this is distressing for many families. The key thing they want to know is if there is a dossier on their families stored in the Department of Health containing sensitive information that they provided to therapists and counsellors on what their families were going through at difficult times? Are these dossiers still accessible to people within that Department, as was revealed in the "RTÉ Investigates" report? When will they be contacted? The Tánaiste said the Department is assessing the files. Can he confirm that every single person on whom information has been stored in this manner will be contacted and told what information is held in the Department? Can the Tánaiste confirm that this practice has stopped and that this information that was gathered is no longer accessible in the manner that it was to numerous people within the Department?
While we understand there are 400 cases in relation to children with autism, can the Tánaiste confirm that this practice, which the Department of Health believes is standard practice, also applies to families who took other cases, such as other health-related cases, against the State? Is the Department of Health also gathering information on them? Will the report that was commissioned this day last year and that has been requested by the Committee on Health be published? Does the Tánaiste have any comment on the fact that this report did not see the legal advice on the legality of asking for this information without the consent of families or parents?