Minister for Health must answer questions about Department dossier

26 March 2021

Following revelations in an RTÉ Investigates report into the mistreatment of information relating to the families of children with special educational needs, Labour leader and health spokesperson Alan Kelly has called on the Minister to come before the Dáil and explain if this is a common practice carried out by the Department. Deputy Kelly called on the Data Protection Commissioner to commence an urgent investigation into this shocking behaviour.

Deputy Kelly said:

“People watching last night’s programme were shocked and stunned that there is a practice of building up dossiers on children with autism and their families. This is so wrong, hurtful and suggests a culture of unfair practices within the Department, exasperated by the fact that the Department of Education seems to be colluding with Health.

“What we need to understand now is just how long this practice has been in play, and who knew what when. We’ve seen many Health ministers since 1996, some still in the Dáil. The current Minister needs to come before the Dáil without delay to get answers for families affected.

“It’s disappointing to hear people fall back on the realms of the law. Just because something is within the bounds of the law does not make it morally right or appropriate. We are talking about highly sensitive personal data relating to children and families. The Data Protection Commission needs to investigate the legality and appropriateness of the manner in which this information was gathered and shared.

“The very fact that the whistleblower, Shane Corr, felt the need to come forward and tell people the practices at play tells you everything you need to know about this appalling practice. Shane Corr was brave to cast a light on this shocking behaviour and he must now be fully protected by the State. He has brought a great deal of justice to the families involved and to society as a whole.

“The Taoiseach’s belated call for a policy review will not answer the “why” of this issue. It seems to me that there are larger cultural issues within the Department of Health at play here. We should not allow the State to treat its citizens this way. We need answers for these families.”

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