HSE apologises in Roscommon childcare case

The HSE has issued an "unreserved and unequivocal" apology to six children involved in the Roscommon child abuse case.

It said it accepted in full the findings and recommendations of the inquiry team, which identified major service failures by the then Western Health Board (later merged into the HSE) up to the time the children were taken into care in 2004.

There are six children in the family involved, who were subject to serious neglect and harm by their parents over a long period. Both parents have been before the courts and have been convicted on assault and abuse charges.

The report into the case found that important child protection concerns were not addressed adequately over a number of years.

This failure meant that the harm and neglect of the children and young adults in the family continued.

The inquiry team said the voices of the six children were not heard in this case over the years.  By not hearing directly the concerns of the children, the services could not respond fully to their needs, the report said.

Four of the six children in this case have now been in the care of the HSE for six years. The report states that they are well-settled in secure and caring foster homes and progressing well.  The two other children, who are now young adults, are living with relatives.

The HSE published the inquiry team report today, which looked into why social services failed to adequately protect the children.

The report recommends greater clarity for staff roles involved in child protection cases.

It found that  staff did not challenge the parents about the effect their behaviour was having on the children.

The HSE said it had already already commenced the recommended audit of current practice of chronic neglect cases.

"This is the beginning of a wider national process which is required from this and other issues where we have the benefit of learning. 

"A similar process will commence in two other areas shortly and national audit (such as that into foster care) has become an integral part of our quality assurance and improvement programme."

The High Court today cleared the way for the publication of the review commissioned by the HSE into the Roscommon case.

Fine Gael children’s spokesperson Charlie Flanagan said the report of the inquiry into the Roscommon case provided one of the clearest illustrations yet of why the Constitution must be amended to protect vulnerable children.

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