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Senator calls for “full inquiry” into Irish children sent to ‘unsafe’ Tavistock by HSE

An Independent Senator has called for a “full inquiry” into the referral of 232 children from Ireland to a clinic in Britain specialising in gender dysphoria which is set to be closed down by the NHS as it was deemed ‘not safe’ by an independent review. 

“I want a full inquiry into the 232 children from Ireland that were sent here by the HSE,” Senator Sharon Keogan wrote. She added that she had raised the matter in the Dáil previously, flagging the Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman, but said her efforts had been “ignored”.


On May 10th, in the Seanad chamber, Senator Keogan called for a debate on the State’s relationship with the Tavistock clinic, noting that the HSE had sent 232 children for treatment to the centre, and noting that the sharp increase in young people seeking their services was “unexplained”. 

“I am calling for a debate on the content of the interim report from the UK Government on the Cass review and the implications it has for Irish children being sent to UK-based clinics. The Cass review is the UK’s independent review of the gender identity services for children and young people that have been offered there since 2011,” she said. 

“The HSE has sent 234 Irish children to the UK for treatment for gender dysphoria in response to the recent unexplained exponential rise in young people experiencing severe gender distress.”

“The clinic in question, run by the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, has been the subject of numerous serious allegations regarding the quality of care being given to the children and young adults in its care. The interim Cass report details that the standards of clinical care, assessment and treatment there do not match those enjoyed by children accessing other health services elsewhere,” she said. 

Senator Keogan was interrupted by Fine Gael Senator Jerry Buttimer who warned her that if she was “making allegations” about people “who are not in the Chamber to defend themselves”, she needed to be “very careful”.

The Senator responded by stating what had been reported in an independent inquiry. 

She said that, in regard to the Tavistock clinic, there had “not been routine or consistent data collection, which has made it impossible to accurately track the outcomes of clinical intervention in solving gender dysphoria.”

“[D]ue to the explosion in demand, the clinic has not been subjected to best practice quality controls, which are usually required before a new treatment is approved,” she said.

“I was made aware of an incident in this country a few weeks ago where a teenage boy came out as gay in confidence to a group of his female friends. They responded by saying that, if he liked boys, he must be a girl and, therefore, must be transgender. He rejected this, saying that he had never felt like a female and that he was simply attracted to men. As a result of his not accepting his friends foisting a gender identity on him, his female friends in whom he had confided broke contact and refused to speak to him. This scenario was never envisaged by those who fought for equality – a gay man being pressured to change his gender in order to have his sexual orientation become straight,” she told the chamber. 

“A debate is in order so that we can find out the Minister’s view on the Cass review and discuss the level of care that we in this Chamber want Irish children to receive.”


The British health service, the NHS, has ordered that the Tavistock transgender clinic for children be shut down after a review found that it is “not safe’. 

The clinic, which had become the subject of considerable controversy after claims that it was “unquestioning ” where children sought to change gender, was found “not a safe or viable long-term option” by an independent review earlier this year. 

The review, led by Dr Hilary Cass, a consultant paediatrician, warned that medics in the Tavistock clinic felt “under pressure to adopt an unquestioning affirmative approach” to gender identity, instead of adopting a process of clinic assessment with young people who might have expressed some form of gender dysphoria. 

In 2020, the clinic was rated “inadequate” – with the UK’s health watchdog, the Care Quality Commission, giving it the lowest rating possible. 

The Inspectors said that “many of the young people waiting for or receiving a service were very vulnerable and at risk of self-harm. Despite this, staff often did not assess the risks presented by young people and their families.”


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