Fears that former doctor Michael Shine will die before investigation can be completed

Investigations into claims of abuse against doctor are taking too long as Shine’s health further deteriorates

Investigations into claims of abuse against doctor are taking too long as Shine’s health further deteriorates

Shine’s health was called into question last week as he was unable to attend court as he was in hospital suffering from what have been termed “stroke like symptoms”.

Last week a High Court action by a Dunleer man who claims he was sexually abused by Shine during a hospital examination 19 years ago was settled for a six figure sum.

Ronan MacConnoran (35), a roofer from Dunleer, claimed the abuse occurred during an examination by the orthopaedic surgeon in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in February, 1993.

He sued Dr Shine; the North Eastern Health Board (now the HSE) ; and the Medical Missionaries of Mary, the former owners of Lourdes Hospital.

Yet there are now fears that Shine will die before further investiagations can be carried out.

In the Dáil debate Minister of State Kathleen Lynch agreed with Sinn Féin health spokesman Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin that Garda inquiries are “taking an inordinately long time” and said she would pursue the matter with Minister for Justice Alan Shatter.

Ó Caoláin had called for the Government to pursue an inquiry into the abuse by the former surgeon the settlement of one of the cases by Ronan MacConnoran.

The Cavan-Monaghan TD said there were scores of victims and he reminded the Dáil of a motion in 2009 by Minister for Health James Reilly, when in Opposition, calling for a “credible inquiry” into how complaints about allegations of abuse against the then surgeon were dealt with by the hospital, the Garda, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the health board, the HSE and the Department of Health.

Mr Ó Caoláin said that it was a “great disappointment” that Dr Reilly had also presided over a significant cut in funding to Dignity 4 Patients, which represents all Mr Shine’s victims.

Ms Lynch said in 2011 Dr Reilly planned for the abuse to be the subject of an Oireachtas inquiry but a referendum to give the Dáil appropriate powers was defeated.

Dr Reilly was now considering how best to deal with the issue and had to consider ongoing Garda investigations, files having been submitted to the DPP and pending civil cases. Ms Lynch said “it would be wrong to do anything that might impede these investigations and pending cases”.

But Mr Ó Caoláin said the “long delay in these inquiries is only likely to lead us to one place, Michael Shine will have passed on. There will be no opportunity for his victims to face their abuser and to give account of the terrible vista he visited on their young lives”.

Some of the victims believed, because of the delays, that “an agenda . . . is being allowed to unfold”.