Thomas Pringle TD

The compilation of dossiers on Autistic Children was inexcusable!

Pringle says the compilation of dossiers was ‘inexcusable’

Independent TD for Donegal, Thomas Pringle, said reports of the compilation of dossiers on children with autism should have been brought to the Dáil last year, when the issue was brought to the attention of the Department of Health.

Deputy Pringle said: “The illegal activities exposed by Shane Corr and RTÉ are inexcusable.”

Addressing the Dáil today, Deputy Pringle said: “Yesterday evening I received a reply to my parliamentary questions to the Minister for Health on the way in which a compilation of a dossier of children with autism was permitted. Part of the PQ reply states: ‘The allegations which were the subject of the RTÉ Prime Time programme on March 25th were brought to the Department’s attention last year. The Department took the matters raised very seriously and commissioned an independent, expert review by an external Senior Counsel. This review was completed in November 2020.’”

Deputy Pringle asked: “So, Minister Harris knew about this and Minister Donnelly. Why weren’t we told? Why are those ministers not here today to answer questions?”

He also repeated questions he has raised about the treatment of children with additional needs.

Deputy Pringle said: “I have asked whether a grant or other funding is available for parents of children with autism that seek to avail of early intervention services privately. I asked about the numbers of children awaiting initial assessment of needs, the length of time waiting, by CHOs and about the process of getting on the list for assessment.”

He said rather than addressing lapses in meeting the timeframe for assessment of needs, the Government and HSE introduced a new operating procedure in January 2020 that allowed for a shorter assessment. He said replies he has received to parliamentary questions showed that between 1st June 2007 and 31st December 2020, a total of 60,465 completed applications for assessment of needs were received by the HSE.

Deputy Pringle said: “Other PQ replies I received, showed that at the end of Quarter 4, there were 5,078 applications overdue for completion with 4,596 overdue for more than three months.”

The deputy credited whistleblower Shane Corr, who exposed the dossiers, and who told his story in a special report on RTÉ Investigates.

Deputy Pringle said: “I would like to say thank you Shane Corr. Thank you for having the bravery and integrity to have seen something fundamentally wrong and to have highlighted it.”