Niall McElwee report ‘not imminent’

THE HSE report into disgraced childcare expert Niall McElwee has still not been completed four months after the health body promised one ‘within weeks’.

An investigation was launched into the 40-year-old after it emerged he burst into the rooms of terrified schoolgirls during a drunken rampage in a hotel in the Netherlands.

The June 2004 incident – which led to him being convicted of two charges of carrying out lewd acts – happened while he was on an all expenses-paid ‘fact-finding’ trip.

At the time, he was employed at the Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT) as a senior lecturer and was regarded as an expert on child and social care issues.

Books he wrote and research projects he conducted had even been referred to in Dáil debates.

That he remained at his post in Athlone despite his arrest, charge and subsequent conviction sparked a major row about vetting procedures.

His conviction only came to light last July after details were leaked to the press and he was forced to resign immediately.

The HSE-initiated internal investigation – which is being carried out by independent management consultant Conal Devine – is essentially trying to find out why he was able to remain in his post for so long after his conviction.

Part of the focus will be to discover who knew about McElwee’s conviction and whether they shared this information.

A Garda sergeant was on the Dutch trip with McElwee. He is not implicated in any wrongdoing whatsoever and is known to have reported the incident to bosses on his return.

They in turn informed staff at what was then the Midland Health Board and which had helped fund the trip.

Last night, Fine Gael’s education and science spokesman demanded that Minister for Children Brendan Smith make a statement in the Dáil on the matter.

Brian Hayes TD said: ‘It’s astonishing that this report is taking so long. I was given an undertaking in July that this would be published as a matter of urgency.

‘The Minister needs to come to the Dáil and make a statement about the apparent lack of progress.’

A HSE spokesman admitted: ‘The report is not imminent, although it might be completed in a matter of weeks.’

It also emerged last night that an internal investigation has been launched into the behaviour of McElwee’s former boss and close personal friend, John Ennis.

A complaint has been lodged against the head of humanities at Waterford Institute of Technology, who employed McElwee before recommending him for the job he eventually took at AIT.

The exact nature of the complaint is not known but it is believed to be related to his management style.

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