Finance Minister Michael Noonan
You may recall barrister Garry O’Halloran’s claim that, at a Fine Gael Ard Fheis in 1997, Finance Minister Michael Noonan “ran” away from him as he attempted to discuss abuse allegations at a foster home in the south-east of the country.
Mr Noonan was the Health Minister at the time.
The Irish Examiner reported the claims on Tuesday and couldn’t get a response from Mr Noonan, despite contacting the Fine Gael press office, the Department of Finance, the Department of Health or the Department of Children.
Today, the claims were put to Minister Noonan and his response was recorded by Gavan Reilly, from Today FM.
Minister Noonan said:
“Well, first of all, I was asked by Richard Crowley two weeks ago about anything I know about this. And I gave him a full answer. When I heard about it, I asked for the file in the Department of Health – there was two pieces of correspondence there. It’s 20 years ago, I’ve no clear memory of it and there was a complaint in and I referred it through the officials, back to the South Eastern Health Board that were the authority at that time and we were told that the young woman in question, or young child in question, had been removed from the foster home.”
“Some weeks later, it transpired that the South Eastern Health Board officials, who had made the decision, had reversed the decision for some reason. Now Austin Currie was the junior minister with responsibility to children at the Department of Health at that time and we referred it on to him.”
“Now I understand Cllr O’Halloran, whom I don’t know, I mean I’m sure I met him when I was minister because I met a lot of councillors, I’m not sure whether he was Waterford or Wexford but he was on in the South East anyway and I reject his versions of events. The minister for children was Austin Currie and an arrangement was made for Gary O’Halloran I understand and some people with him to discuss the issue with Austin Currie.”
“Beyond that, I don’t know anything but I’m prepared to cooperate with whatever inquiry is put in place after the election.”
In response to a follow up question [impossible to make out] from the Irish Examiner’s Daniel McConnell, Mr Noonan said:
“No, no, no, you’re making, as I understand it what we have, at present, is a series of allegations that need to be inquired into. I understand there’s no proof on either side. And I don’t want to say anything that gets me into legal difficulty to satisfy your curiosity. I’ve given you an absolute straight answer on everything I know. I can’t be responsible for third parities who make allegations about me which I refute.”
Previously: ‘He Spotted Me And Ran’