(Limerick East): I propose to take Questions Nos. 6 and 34 together.
In response to recent concerns regarding Goldenbridge and St. Kryan's, Rathdrum, the Eastern Health Board established a helpline which remained open between 29 February and 2 March 1996. A total of 150 calls were received — 103 on the first day, 46 on the second day and one on the third day.
Where it was requested callers were referred for counselling. The majority were referred to the independent counselling services established by the Sisters of Mercy. In addition a social worker has been assigned on a full-time basis to deal with the complaints, concerns and needs of former residents.
The other health boards have also responded positively to the increase in calls from victims of past abuse by the provision,inter alia, of help-lines, counselling and support services. Arising from discussions between senior officials of my Department and the health board chief executive officers, a joint response to help victims of past abuse is being prepared by the health boards, the details of which will be announced shortly.
There is a Garda investigation in progress concerning the allegations in regard to Goldenbridge. In these circumstances, I have no plans to initiate an inquiry into the conflicting statements concerning the experiences of former residents.