HSE workers who failed ‘Grace’ should be prosecuted, Dáil told

The Farrelly Commission has been investigating the case and has published two interim reports, which were debated by the Dail on Thursday.
HSE workers who failed ‘Grace’ should be prosecuted, Dáil told

By Cate McCurry, PA

Health Service Executive officials who failed “Grace” and 46 other vulnerable people in a foster home should be brought to court and prosecuted, the Dáil has been told.

Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness said those who knew what was happening to the intellectually disabled woman should be “chased down” and held accountable.

The disabled woman known as Grace was placed in a foster home for 20 years in the south-east, even though there were allegations of sexual abuse there.

The Farrelly Commission has been investigating the case and has published two interim reports.

The Dáil debated the two reports on Thursday.

The Commission was given more time to carry out its work over the summer and the full report is expected to be published next July.

Anne Rabbitte, the disabilities minister, said she was “very disappointed” to learn that the Commission needed more time to conclude its work.

 

“All options were considered but, being honest with the House, where would we be if the Commission was scrapped?” she added.

“We’d have spent seven million euros and have no final report to show for it.

“This is no use to anyone, no lessons could be learned. We need to ensure this final report can be drafted and submitted to government so that we have a true understanding of what events occurred and where exactly there were failures in Grace’s care.”

Mr McGuinness said: “There are individuals in the HSE that know what went on. They are criminals that should be brought to court, that should be prosecuted and we should not be afraid to chase them down.”

Mr McGuinness was critical of the Government’s response to the case.

He said he discussed previous reports with the whistleblowers who helped expose the alleged abuse.

“I have to say that I’m shocked and appalled by what is happening here today is a further abuse of Grace and the 46 others,” Mr McGuinness added.

“We are completely ignoring the fact that there are reports within the HSE that clearly outline what happened to Grace.

“I read the reports from the whistleblowers. I discussed it with them, and I couldn’t believe that this type of abuse could happen in our state.

“Abuse where a young woman was put into a home and was sexually abused.

“That sexual abuse was reported by a HSE worker because he was concerned that she had objects put into her that would cause her a bowel problem for her future and it did.

“It was reported to the gardai and nothing happens. [The HSE] called to the house and inspected it and found that she lived there with three male residents.

“There was people found under the stairs locked in. There was children out in outhouses.

“We know enough in these reports to know that there was corruption, that there was criminality involved, and the guards of the state took no action whatsoever.

“I’m holding the Taoiseach and the Government to account on this.

“I believe that the Dáil should insist on accountability. The Taoiseach and the minister should be sitting down there listening to what went on to Grace and respond to it.

“Not hiding behind legal advice, not hiding behind ‘oh somebody can’t be named’. Someone abused Grace sexually and others in that house.”

'Insult'

Independent TD Catherine Connolly called Ms Rabbitte’s speech an “insult” to the Dáil and those who have been abused.

She added: “There needs to be accountability. We need to know exactly what happened and who was responsible for any failures that may be uncovered by the Commission.

“I would hope that when the Commission’s full findings are eventually published, we will all have answers to these important questions as well as recommendations for the future.”

Ms Rabbitte said the work of the Commission has yet to conclude on a number of important issues relating to “Grace”.

“In particular, we are awaiting its findings in relation to the care provided to Grace by the foster family and whether she suffered abuse,” the minister added.

“This is one of the most important issues to be considered by the Commission and there is a significant interest in its resolution.”

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