Sunday, May 30, 2010

HSE orders probe into threats claim at charity

THE HSE has ordered an investigation into alleged abuse and threats made by members of a charity for survivors of institutional abuse.

Catherine Coffey, a founding member of the Kerry branch of Right of Place, has made a complaint to the gardaí and the HSE over alleged threats made to her at the offices of Right of Place.

Ms Coffey is claiming she was verbally abused and threatened on several occasions by a member of the charity.

The HSE subsequently wrote to Ms Coffey stating the matters raised needed to be dealt with "as a matter of urgency".

The charity has been dogged by difficulties following revelations that the group, unknown to its members, had, received hundreds of thousands or euro from religious orders and bishops.

The organisation has been under scrutiny since late last year after the HSE ordered that its founder Noel Barry answer questions in relation to how it was spending its money.

One of the country’s largest survivor groups, it has received millions of euro in Government funding since 2002 and continues to receive money.

Labour TD Sean Sherlock brought the issue to the attention of the Dáil this week.

He requested there be a discussion on Right of Place, and the need to ensure transparency where Exchequer funding applies to such organisations as an "important matter of public interest requiring urgent attention".

Mr Sherlock called for an examination of the 2009 service agreement between Right of Place and the HSE and queried whether such a service agreement existed prior to that date.

He said questions needed to be asked about the board structures of Right of Place and the publication of its annual reports.

He asked that details of established company accounts, where such accounts exist, be published, and whether it should be necessary for the Garda Síochána to be called in to investigate the role of the HSE and its relationship with Right of Place.

Speaking in the Dáil on Tuesday, Mr Sherlock said the Government should "shine some light" on the amounts of money allocated to Right of Place, the transparency procedures in relation to the allocation of taxpayers’ money and whether appropriate financial governance systems were in place to stand up to independent scrutiny.