The HSE has been dragged kicking and screaming, in many respects and on many occasions, to give us information.
Public Accounts Committee
Meeting in Special Session
February 2, 2016
HSE officials including Tony O'Brien, Director General, Pat Healy, National Director of Social Care, Aileen Colley, chief officer for community health organisation CHO 5 (Wexford, Waterford, Kilkenny and South Tipperary), called and examined; also Frances Spillane & Grainne Duffy from the Department of Health.
Deputy John Deasy: The hallmark of this entire issue with Mr. O'Brien's organisation has been when anyone asks a question, in here or at ministerial level, they are given just enough information to suffice with regard to kicking the matter down the road.
The hallmark of this matter is that full information has not been given by Mr. O'Brien's organisation at times. The HSE, as the Chairman has said, has been dragged kicking and screaming, in many respects and on many occasions, to give us that information.
That is the hallmark of this entire issue and that has been our experience in this committee. I am afraid that is a big problem for me.
We now have a commission of investigation. It has been announced. Why has it come to this?
Ms Frances Spillane: There has been huge concern voiced by Ministers, and, obviously, within the Department as well, about everything that has gone on here and that was reflected in the decision by the Minister to appoint Mr. Conor Dignam SC to do the review of everything that happened in the south east.
John Deasy: The Minister of State stated last night that the reason they are going ahead with a commission of investigation is that they were not sure of the information that they were being given any longer, there was counter information and gaps in the information that the Department had been given.
The Chairman was on radio last week and somebody in RTE asked whether the committee has a remit here. The Chairman replied that we did given that we looked at the value-for-money issues surrounding the commissioning of reports, but it was probably a fair question.
In reality, when it comes right down to it, the Committee of Public Accounts probably should not be dealing with this; the Department should be. Ms Spillane should have dealt with this. We should not be dealing with this today.
There is a theory that if it had been dealt with better in the Department of Health, a commission of investigation probably would not have been announced. That is a reasonable point. The reason Mr. Conor Dignam SC was commissioned to conduct a desktop review was because we raised this in this committee.
When it comes to constituents who came to me, I had to fight for the most basic care for some of those who were involved and who were subjected to the most horrendous rape. We did that through what we do on a daily basis within this committee....
The Department of Health is absolutely pivotal in this with regard to its oversight of an organisation that has failed, and failed miserably... Ultimately, it has led to a commission of investigation because the Department of Health did not deal with this matter.