A 52-year-old man convicted last week of the systematic rape of his son had charges relating to the neglect and cruelty of his other five children dropped because HSE inspections at the time found no evidence of it in the family home.

The man's five other children were due to give evidence against their father but the DPP directed that the charges be dropped just before the trial got under way because successive HSE visits had found no evidence of serious problems in the home.

The man now faces life in prison after being convicted on 47 counts of anal, oral and sexual assault of his son between 2001 and 2004.

The now 20-year-old victim admitted he in turn raped his young sisters on a regular basis but has been granted immunity from prosecution by the DPP for testifying against his father.

A senior garda source said there was no doubt there was neglect and cruelty of all six children by their parents but this was covered up when HSE visited their home and social workers failed to notice major problems in the family home.

The children's mother has already been jailed for seven years for the sexual abuse, rape and neglect of her children in the west of Ireland. Four of the six children are now living with foster parents and are said to be making good progress.

The HSE had been monitoring the family for six years before the gardaí became involved in the case.

Members of the jury wept when the father was found guilty last week, as one of the most harrowing ever sex abuse cases in recent years concluded. He will be sentenced next Monday.

Meanwhile, the report of the HSE's own inquiry into the case is unlikely to be published before the end of March at the earliest.

The Sunday Tribune also understands that it may be released only with significant sections, including those naming individual health board officials, "blanked out".

A spokesman for the HSE confirmed that the work of the inquiry team, chaired by Barnardos director of advocacy Norah Gibbons, has yet to be completed.