IHREC calls for review into dossiers on autistic children to be published

Human rights group says concerns raised about State’s approach to disabled people

Shane Corr,   senior civil servant at the Department of Health, says he has seen dossiers containing sensitive information on children and their families who were involved in legal actions against the State.  Photograph: RTÉ

Shane Corr, senior civil servant at the Department of Health, says he has seen dossiers containing sensitive information on children and their families who were involved in legal actions against the State. Photograph: RTÉ

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The Department of Health must publish the independent review into its practice of compiling dossiers on children with autism without their consent as soon as possible, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) has warned.

Chief commissioner Sinéad Gibney said on Tuesday the practice, as reported by RTÉ’s Primetime Investigates last week, raised “significant human rights concerns about the State’s approach to the privacy rights of citizens, patient confidentiality when dealing with public health and social care services, and, in particular, its fundamental approach to people with a disability and their families”.

In the programme Shane Corr, a senior civil servant at the department, said he had seen dossiers containing sensitive information on children and their families who were involved in legal actions against the State.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said he believed the issues raised merited an independent review. This was despite the department telling RTÉ the practice was lawful.

Noting the department’s response, the IHREC said this legal advice must also be published “promptly”.

The Department of Health did not provide a comment on IHREC’s calls.

Speaking in the Seanad on Monday, Minister of State for Disability Anne Rabbitte said department secretary general Robert Watt informed her that the department intended to publish the review by the independent senior counsel of the policy.

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