It is my view that the powers of investigation currently held by the Ombudsman for Children’s Office (OCO) as they relate to HSE Children and Family Services should extend to the Child and Family Agency following its establishment. In this connection my Department will be consulting with the OCO in accordance with Section 10(7)(a) of the Ombudsman for Children Act, 2002. This will be with a view to the making of an order to amend Schedule 1 of the Act to include the Child and Family Agency as a public body which will be subject to the OCO powers of investigation.
I should point out that there currently exists a very effective mechanism to investigate deaths and serious incidents involving children in care and known to the HSE. That is the National Review Panel, which is chaired by Dr. Helen Buckley and which has over the past number of years published a series of important, comprehensive reports. I recently indicated my intention to strengthen the operation of the National Review Panel by asking HIQA to undertake an audit/oversight role in relation to the processes of the Panel and discussions are ongoing in relation to the detail of this role.