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HSE 'regrets but understands' why Grace's mother won't accept their apology

“The past nine years have been a living hell for me,” Grace’s mother told RTÉ Investigates.

Image: RollingNews.ie

Updated at 1.55pm

THE MOTHER OF the woman at the centre of the Grace case has said that she doesn’t accept the HSE’s apology, saying that she felt “it didn’t come from the heart”.

The HSE responded this afternoon, saying that they ‘it was to their regret’ that they heard Grace’s mother wouldn’t accept their apology, but that they understood why.

The Grace case concerns a young woman with intellectual disabilities who was in care. Allegations arose that she had suffered years of abuse, but despite the allegations she remained at the home for 20 years.

Interview with Grace’s mother

On RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, a reporter who spoke with Grace’s birth mother said that she had regularly phoned up to check in on Grace, and that she was always told that Grace was doing well.

Although these check-ins on Grace were always initiated by her mother, HSE did contact Grace’s mother for permission to conduct medical procedures such as dental work.

Over the years before the case was made public, Grace’s mother was never informed of the sexual abuse claims, and only first learned of them in 2009.

When she heard of the allegations, she immediately demanded the removal of Grace from the foster home.

Grace’s mother said:

My understanding before the allegations was that she was happy, she was attending her day services, and that she was in a loving caring home.
And that made me happy that she was happy. That’s what I was made to believe, that’s what I was always told.

The HSE released a statement to RTÉ on whether Grace’s mother should have been told, saying that was “best dealt with in the upcoming commission of investigation”.

Grace’s mother said that the “reports were very harrowing” and she couldn’t “look at in any detail”.

She maintained that she didn’t accept the HSE’s apology, saying that she felt they should have contacted her personally to apologise.

“[The HSE's apology] wasn’t coming from the heart, I won’t accept that apology, no one picked up the phone, nobody [did that for me], and I don’t accept their apology.
I don’t trust them, the past nine years have been a living hell for me and it’s still that way.

The HSE’s response

In a statement released this afternoon, the HSE said:

“It is genuinely to our regret, but we understand why Grace’s mother cannot accept our apology now.  We do hope that in the future she may be in a position to do so.”

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The HSE went on to confirm that they would work fully with the commission of inquiry, and said that the issue was a complex one.

The fact she and others have so many unanswered questions is indicative of just how complex this matter is over a twenty year period. All that we know and can find to date is in the two reports published and in the Conor Dignam report which the Government commissioned as a precursor to the Commission of Inquiry.
Once again the HSE can only apologise to Grace and her mother and say that we genuinely are very sorry for all of the failings in her care and in our system.

The HSE also clarified media reports that claimed misinformation over the weekend.

Some reports said that one of the three members of the panel that decided to leave Grace in the foster home was now in a senior role in Tusla; the HSE say that this is not true, and that all three individuals are retired from the HSE and are in receipt of a pension.

Reports also suggested that the HSE didn’t engage with gardaí until three years after the Devine report, which they say is also incorrect.

Throughout the period from 2011, further live garda investigations linked to the former foster home and the Grace case continued throughout 2012, 2013, and 2014 which were the subject of ongoing contact, including correspondence and provision of additional information and files, to the gardaí by HSE staff in the South East.

Commenting on the interview, Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar said that it was an “enormous omission that she wasn’t informed that those allegations existed”, but said that the important thing was that the woman known as Grace is safe now, and has been since 2009.

Two reports looking into the case were published last week. The terms of reference for a commission of investigation into the case of the young woman known as Grace will be announced tomorrow.

The full interview with Grace’s mother will be aired tonight on RTÉ’s Claire Byrne Live.

Read: Allegations of abuse about another child at ‘Grace’ home reported to gardaí in 1996

Grace case: 47 children went through foster home where there were abuse concerns

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