Independent report into HSE reviews of South East abuse cases makes significant recommendations
Today’s report by senior counsel Conor Dignam makes a series of important recommendations regarding a Commission of Enquiry into the cases of abuse in a fostering setting in the South East. Barnardos would echo many of the recommendations, demanding a thorough and effective enquiry which ensures no child or young person who becomes the responsibility of the State will be at risk of abuse in the future.
Barnardos’ CEO Fergus Finlay said: “Conor Dignam’s comprehensive, independent review shines a light on the processes adopted by the HSE’s two previous reviews and puts forward a range of pertinent and sometimes frankly concerning questions for the Commission of Enquiry. If the Commission is to do justice to Grace it must be given the resources and scope required to fully answer these questions and the HSE must be prepared to act accordingly when the time comes.
“Barnardos has been unequivocal in its call for a Commission which is robust and effective, ensuring no child or young person in State care will be at risk of abuse. In order to do so it is of vital importance the Commission is allowed to do a full enquiry and has the freedom to widen its remit of enquiry on foot of further evidence.”
In addition to Mr Dignam’s recommendations Barnardos would strongly urge:
- the Commission is given the power, for at least a limited period to receive additional information and evidence about other situations of potential or actual abuse of children within the foster care setting;
- the Commission is given the power to make recommendations, especially around a strengthening of the law, such that no child would ever be placed within the care system, whether voluntarily or by the courts, without a legal right to representation and advocacy around their ongoing protection and wellbeing;
- the Commission has, in addition to legal expertise, at least one member with a strong and independent background in child protection, and one member who will be seen as representing the broader public interest; and
- the Commission hears directly from young people and/or their representatives on their experiences.