Dublin's Mater Hospital

A medical consultant in the Mater hospital who is under investigation for child sexual abuse has been allowed to continue working with children, the Sunday Tribune has learned.

It is understood that the consultant had offered to step back while the investigation was continuing but that this was deemed unnecessary.

He was allowed to continue working directly with children with another person present in order to guarantee patient safety.

Niall Muldoon, national director of Children At Risk in Ireland (Cari), said allowing the consultant to continue working in such circumstances was a "very unusual scenario".

The guidelines recommend that once a person is accused of sexual abuse they should be moved away from contact with children. This is as much to protect the accused as the children because it leaves the accused open to further allegations of abuse.

"If the accused remains in contact with the children, it undermines the seriousness of the allegation and preempts the outcome," Muldoon added.

A spokesman for the Mater hospital confirmed the investigation was in train and was being conducted by the HSE.

"The Mater hospital is co-operating fully with the investigation, which is being led by the HSE," the spokesman said last week. A spokesman for the HSE refused to confirm or deny that the executive was involved in any investigation into a medical consultant in the Mater hospital.

The complaint against the consultant was made by the mother of the child at the centre of the investigation.

The investigation has been ongoing for some weeks. The hospital was unable to give any indication as to when it would conclude.

It is understood the consultant and the hospital are keen to investigate the allegation fully as both the individual's reputation and that of the hospital are on the line.

It is policy of all hospitals that any complaint of sexual abuse against children be fully investigated on a 'children first' basis and in accordance with procedure, no matter how spurious the claim may initially appear to be.