Fianna Fáil Children Spokesperson Charlie McConalogue has criticised the Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald for her vague and inadequate response to the six reports published yesterday by the National Board for Safeguarding Children.
 
Deputy McConalogue has called on Minister Fitzgerald to make a statement on the progress of the HSE’s national child protection review, which is yet to produce any reports since it was established six years ago.
 
Deputy McConalogue said, “I am shocked by Minister Fitzgerald’s low-key and indecisive reaction to the reports published yesterday.  These reviews, carried out by the Church’s own child protection watchdog, yet again shone a spotlight on the historic failures by Church authorities to appropriately deal with allegations of child abuse in so many cases.  And yet, the Minister’s response is to sit on the fence, and wait for more reports from the HSE before considering a full independent inquiry.
 
“We have been waiting for six years for the results of a HSE national child protection audit.  There is still no sign of it. In December 2010, the HSE stated the audit would be completed by spring of this year.  In July 2011, Minister Fitzgerald said she hoped to publish the audit in September.   Yet today she has said it will not be ready until next year. I am calling on Minister Fitzgerald to come before the Dáil with a progress report from the HSE and a timeframe on when the findings will be published.  
 
“What more evidence does the Minister need before this issue becomes worthy of a statutory inquiry? Internal HSE and Church audits are important, but they are not good enough in isolation.  The survivors of abuse must be given the opportunity to have their voices heard and the roles of Church and State authorities should be examined by truly independent investigators.
 
“We must be absolutely clear about the need for any inquiry to be fully independent. Speaking on RTÉ this morning, the Minister made a worrying suggestion that she may consider assigning responsibility for any inquiry to the National Board for Safeguarding Children. This is the Catholic Church’s own body, and while their work is welcome, they are not the appropriate body for such a task.
 
“People need to see some sense of urgency from Minister Fitzgerald about this matter. Many of the victims in the reports published yesterday have been waiting 35 years to have their voices heard. They cannot be expected to wait endlessly for another report before a comprehensive response is even considered.”