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17.27 1 Feb 2016


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The Minister for Mental Heath Kathleen Lynch and the Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar, have recommended that the Government establish a Commission of Investigation into events in a foster home in the South East.

Kathleen Lynch said "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."

The Taoiseach and Tánaiste have met to discuss the proposal from the ministers and a statement from the Taoiseach's office this evening says the two ministers will attend Cabinet tomorrow and will outline their proposals for the establish of a Commission of Investigation then.

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Speaking after a meeting with the HSE this afternoon, 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." 

Lynch has recommended that the current work of Conor Dignam SC should "greatly the drafting of the terms of reference for a Commission of Investigation."

Mr Dignam's current work involves reviewing probes into earlier allegations. It is not anticipated to be completed until April 2016 - meaning any follow on investigation could not begin until after that date.

The Tánaiste Joan Burton earlier said there should be a judicial inquiry into events at a foster care home in the southeast.

Joan Burton says it would be her preference that an inquiry take place, once other investigations have finished.

"I think ultimately that is going to be required because the issues raised by the case are extremely important," she said.

"I would say that ultimately we should see a full judicial inquiry," she added.

The head of the HSE is to appear before the Public Accounts Committee tomorrow, to give his account of the matter.

The Health Minister, Leo Varadkar, said he has met with two of the whistle-blowers who reported alleged abuse of children with disabilities at a foster home in the south-east.

"I had a phone conversation with one of the whistle-blowers last night and Minister Lynch and I met a different one some months ago."


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