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Monday 2 October 2023 Dublin: 11°C
'Angry and upset' CAMHS families seek apology from Taoiseach
A review of the care of more than 1,300 children found that 46 of them sustained significant harm.

A SOLICITOR REPRESENTING families impacted by the Kerry CAMHS scandal says that the injured parties deserve to receive an apology from the Taoiseach from the Dáil chambers.

A review of the care of more than 1,300 children who attended the HSE run Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) in South Kerry has found that 46 of the children sustained significant harm.

Solicitor Padraig O’Connell, who represents a sizeable number of the families, says that the injured parties deserve more than a perfunctory apology from the HSE.

“We will be seeking that the Taoiseach go into the Dail and make a public apology to the victims. It is utterly scandalous. It is a matter in my opinion that should be investigated under the criminal court.

“Obviously there should be due process but it should be investigated in the criminal court. I am calling on the Taoiseach to go in to the Dáil and utter a public apology to all of the victims”

O’Connell believes that an apology from the HSE is “meaningless unless it is met by action”.

“It needs remorse, action and compensation. Remorse which must be real. Action which must be real and compensation which must be appropriate. The details are seismic in their nature and are shocking to the general public but they are of no surprise to the families. It raises questions about CAMHS.

“The families are devastated to see it in print. You place yourself in the hands of an expert. Who in Ireland questions a doctor?”

Mr O’Connell said that one of his clients Maurice O’Connell indicated that when his son Jason went to appointments with a junior doctor in CAMHS a social worker wasn’t present which was highly unorthodox.

“This was highly unusual. He was effectively a Lone Ranger. It was run by him as sort of an independent parallel programme.”

He said that one doctor gave an autism diagnosis to a parent which was ‘wholly inappropriate” as this was outside his expertise.

“First of all you have the devastation of the illness. It was compounded by the gross negligence that is visited on these people by this supposed expert. These children have missing years of life, of schooling and pure social activity. Where are they gone? And this is on top of Covid.”

Meanwhile, Keith Rolls, a solicitor who is representing eighty of the families, said that they are “extremely worried”.

“They’re angry, they’re upset and I can understand this. I’ve sat in the homes, I’ve sat at the meetings with the HSE and our clients, I’ve witnessed the emotion and I can completely understand why our clients are so concerned about the care their children have received, and they’re concerned about the consequences going forward for their children.”

A mother of a ten year old child who used the service told Morning Ireland on RTE Radio 1 that she is “livid”.

“I am so angry. I’m also very guilty as well. I feel guilty because I fought for that service. I fought two years to get my son seen by these professionals and then drugged him for two years with the wrong drug.

“Mother’s guilt is very high. I know that’s a bit silly because I know I was doing what the doctor advised me, but essentially there’s times where I have this overwhelming guilt where I’m like I got my child drugged with the wrong medication for over two years.

“I feel like they were just doing it to make them look good because I still have problems trying to get an appointment. So, from my point of view nothing has changed. I still don’t have a team or anyone offering me any therapies other than medication.

“I can’t get through on the phone. I have appointments on a Sunday – that’s my husband’s day off, that’s our family day and I have to use our family day to basically drag my child to an appointment he doesn’t want to go to – to achieve what?

“They take his blood pressure, they take his height and they give him a prescription.”

Olivia Kelleher
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