Investigation Into Church Care Inquiry Suspended

The Ombudsman for Children has suspended its investigation into a child protection audit of the Catholic Church by the HSE and the Department of Health.

Ombudsman Emily Logan said on Wednesday she had suspended her investigation due to the failure by the HSE to "genuinely cooperate with the process".

The Child Protection Audit of the Catholic Church Dioceses was being investigated after bishops who were issued with questionnaires in 2006 insisted they could not respond to section five of the audit, which requested detailed information on complaints and allegations of child sexual abuse against members of the clergy.

According to Ms Logan, since the investigation commenced four months ago, the HSE has failed to provide any of the documentation requested by her office.

The HSE apparently has not engaged with the investigation despite a public statement and private assurances of its cooperation to the ombudsman.

Ms Logan added that the HSE had also requested her office to appoint a senior counsel to discuss the investigation with it's own senior counsel.

However, as a non-judicial body the Ombudsman for Children refused to make an appointment and instead contacted the HSE seeking a meeting to resolve any difficulties the HSE may have, but the HSE failed to respond.

Ms Logan claimed her office sent a further letter to the HSE, questioning whether it was the intention of the HSE to cooperate with the investigation.

The Ombudsman for Children then received a letter from the HSE stating that a decision had been made to supply documents that were not subject to legal privilege.

The documentation that eventually arrived from the HSE's solicitors was a photocopy of a document, published in full on 7 January by the Minister for Children that triggered the Ombudsman for Children's initial investigation.

Ms Logan said: "After careful consideration, the Ombudsman for Children has now deemed the HSE's actions as non-cooperation, and has written to both the HSE and the Department of Health informing them of her decision to suspend the investigation.

The Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs at the Department of Health has engaged with the investigation."

Responding to the suspension, Labour's spokesperson on Children, Senator Alex White, said: "Claims by the HSE that they have indeed provided Ms Logan with all the documentation she required to conduct this investigation simply do not stand up to scrutiny.

"Ms Logan has catalogued in detail the requests that she has made to the HSE for various files and documents, and it is manifestly clear that they have come up short."


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