Written Answers. - Child Abuse Allegations.

Liz O'Donnell

Question:

90 Ms O'Donnell asked the Minister for Health if he will publish the report commissioned on Madonna House and the allegations of sexual abuse of children committed to care there; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [916/94]

Godfrey Timmins

Question:

136 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Health the proposals, if any, he has for administrative or legislative changes arising from the events at Madonna House; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [985/94]

Alan Shatter

Question:

147 Mr. Shatter asked the Minister for Health whether he has received a report on alleged incidents of children being sexually abused in Cualann, a residential care centre in Dublin, and Madonna House; the investigations, if any, that have been undertaken to ascertain the number and identity of the children involved; the period of time during which children were abused in each home; the action, if any, taken by either his Department or by the Eastern Health Board following the closure of Cualann to ensure that no repetition of such incidents occured in other residential care centres operating within the State; and the action, if any, he or the Eastern Health Board will take as a result of the events in Madonna House. [450/94]

Frances Fitzgerald

Question:

213 Ms F. Fitzgerald asked the Minister for Health if he intends to make public the report of the committee set up to investigate Madonna House; and, if so, when the report might be available to members of the Dáil. [255/94]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 90, 136, 147 and 213 together.

I have not yet received the report of the team appointed by the Sisters of Charity to review the operation of Madonna House following allegations of misconduct against certain members of the staff. I understand that the report is due to be completed within the next week or so. On receipt of the report, it will be necessary for both the Sisters of Charity and my Department to obtain legal advice as to what parts can be published. I assure the House, however, that it is my wish that as much information as possible should be made available, consistent with protecting the identities of innocent parties and avoiding interference with ongoing investigations and legal proceedings.

I understand from the Eastern Health Board that, at this stage, it has identified at least 15 children who were allegedly abused while residing in Madonna House. The allegations relate to both physical abuse and sexual abuse and stretch back over a number of years. Counselling and support services are being made available, as appropriate, to the persons in question, some of whom are now in their late teens and early twenties. I intend to make a fuller statement on the Madonna House situation when I have had an opportunity to study the report of the investigation team.
With regard to Cualann Family Group Home, allegations of child abuse came to the notice of the Eastern Health Board in early 1989. The health board carried out a full child abuse investigation and the Garda also conducted their own inquiries. There were six children in residence at the time, of whom three boys were allegedly abused over a period of about a year. A warrant was issued for the arrest of a member of the staff who absconded and has not yet appeared before the courts. Following the disclosure, an intensive programme of counselling was arranged for all of the children. Two of them were subsequently returned to the care of their parents and others were placed in alternative residential homes. The home at Cualann was closed by the religious order concerned in late 1989.
In the light of events at Cualann, the Department of Health reviewed the residential care provisions of the Child Care Bill, 1988, which was then being processed through a special committee of this House. This ultimately resulted in the amendment of the Bill to provide for the introduction of a more comprehensive system of registration and inspection of children's residential centres which is now contained in Part VIII of the Act.