Thursday, 1 April 2021
Prime Time Investigates Programme on Department of Health: Statements
John McGuinness (Carlow-Kilkenny, Fianna Fail)
I am sharing time with Deputy Michael Moynihan. This is yet another scandal involving a whistleblower and a report being commissioned by a multidisciplinary team. The same old worn path is being followed by the State. It starts with mutterings from the Taoiseach and Ministers in this House suggesting that there is another side to the story. Like all other whistleblowers, I am sure Shane Corr will no longer enjoy his employment, in this case with the Department of Health. That happens with every whistleblower who ever comes to the fore.
We are told that the departmental officials and their families have to be considered. There are decent officials in the Department doing decent work. However, we must consider the facts. This was an attempt by officials to put together dossiers on every single relevant case. That was done and we cannot ignore it. When it comes to investigating what happened, what are we offered? An investigation is to be directed by the Secretary General which, the Minister of State has told us, will "provide the factual detail on these matters". How can the Secretary General who tried to gag RTÉ and "Prime Time" be appointed to investigate the matter? If it was a politician who made that call, we would be asking him or her to resign. That is a fact.
The efforts being made smack of a cover-up and the same old, same old all over again. I point to the example of the case known as the Grace case that went on for a decade and involved a whistleblower. The Minister of State should ask the Department where that whistleblower is now. That person is out of a job and tied up in court. The employer, funded by the HSE, let that person go. The way we treat whistleblowers is an absolute disgrace and scandal. Did Tusla ever rectify its files on Maurice McCabe?
There is also Noel McGree, another man who is out of a job. I am pointing to these as examples of decent people who came forward and tried to do some service for the State. They end up being the victims, left out of a job and being spoken about badly in the House, as happened previously and, no doubt, will happen again. How many live cases are there in the Department in respect of this issue? How much have the senior counsel and all of the reports cost? Will the Minister of State implement a different type of review that is independent and not headed by the Department?
Earlier, the Minister of State said, "The Department's view is that the legal approach has always been to settle cases on the best terms possible." That is a lie because the Department has a record of fighting every single case right to the end. In spite of what we say in this House those in the Civil Service will continue doing what they have done over the years. What of all the Ministers for Health we have had? Did they not know about this? If they did not know about it, what kind of job were they doing?