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Department of Health internal investigation finds missing Kinzen contracts

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has said that an internal investigation of the Department of Heath’s records, carried out by the Department’s ICT team, has found “additional records” relating to the Kinzen contracts which the Department had previously told Gript had been lost.

Minister Donnelly stated that “the information that was made public, stating records had been ‘lost’ was inaccurate and was sent to an external stakeholder in error.” It’s unclear why, if the records had not in fact been lost, it required an internal investigation to find them.

It’s also unclear why Gript was initially told the records were lost, nor why, if the documents were not lost, a second FOI submitted by Gript was also told the documents could not be found and that  it was possible the “impact of the cyber-attack may have meant that full accessibility and ability for search/retrieval of records was not available.”

It seems noteworthy that two separate FOIs, one of which was reviewed, meaning Department of Health staff searched for the records on three separate occasions, turned up no evidence of the records given that we are now told the contracts were always available.

The Minister made the statements in response to a Parliamentary Question submitted by Deputy Carol Nolan. Deputy Nolan told Gript that she believed the latest development in this long-running saga “has effectively stretched credibility to breaking point.” Deputy Nolan added that, in her view, “it is becoming increasingly difficult to resist the impression that the Minister and indeed the Department are taking the public for fools. That is a position I will not tolerate.”

Deputy Nolan told Gript that she had initially raised a PQ on this issue as “it was important to have clarity and transparency around the nature and purpose of the Kinzen contract. Unfortunately, as time has gone on, the situation has become decidedly worse on both fronts.”

Deputy Nolan has said she will continue to chase that matter, and that she is “clear on one thing…the Minister can expect further questions from me on this matter.”

It is worth noting that the Department made no attempt to inform us that they had apparently given us incorrect information on multiple occasions, nor that the contracts had been found following an internal investigation.  Following Minister Donnelly’s response to Deputy Nolan’s PQ we sent several requests to the Department for the Kinzen contracts to be turned over to us, on the basis that the Minister of Health had himself directly stated that we were told they were lost “in error”, but we have yet to receive copies.

We also asked the Department of Health if it had any response to Deputy Nolan’s comments regarding their credibility, but had not received a response at time of print.

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