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'As a parent, this is your worst nightmare': Sister of child at 'Grace' home speaks out

It is claimed the HSE was told of concerns about the foster home before Grace was placed there.

THE SISTER OF another young girl who spent time at the ‘Grace’ foster home in the south-east has described how her mother told of her concerns about the home before Grace was placed in its care.

In an interview with David McCullagh on Prime Time tonight, it was claimed that Sarah (not her real name) was another victim of an attacker in the home.

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.

Sarah’s sister described how the young girl was playing with her mother one Sunday afternoon. The mother said an innocent turn of phrase and Sarah began taking her clothes off and got into a sexual position. Her mother was horrified and started demanding answers from all those who had a duty of care to the young girl, who has intellectual disabilities.

Sarah’s sister said: “I mean, as a parent, this is your worst nightmare. Sarah was home on a Sunday afternoon with Mom playing in the a sitting room.

Mom said a very innocent turn of phrase and to her absolute horror Sarah kind of Sarah got into a position, took down her pants, and kind of got into a sexual position and as you can imagine for any Mum, my mum was shocked and she just was you know immobilised.

Sarah’s mother removed her from the home and brought her to a care centre in the North.

According to Sarah’s sister, her mother would have been the very first whistleblower in this case. Yet she claims nothing was done after the complaints were made.

“Not only was she met with a brick wall, they came down really hard on our mother, there was reports written up, they were quite aggressive towards the family, they just totally bullied us into thinking that it was all just in Mam’s head while on the other hand they were doing all of these checks themselves and reaching a decision. Their lives have been robbed in so many ways.”

A commission of investigation into the Grace case is expected to begin in the next six months.

Anti Austerity Alliance Junior Minister Finian McGrath Sam Boal / Sam Boal / /

Terms of reference were agreed at Cabinet yesterday – and while the Minister with responsibility for disabilities, Finian McGrath, says that the inquiry will provide answers for everybody concerned, others have criticised the scope of the investigation as not going far enough.

The commission of investigation will seek to establish how Grace was placed with her foster family in the first instance, the decisions made that saw her left there, and what monitoring was undertaken. The first module of the investigation will focus on Grace, alone.

However, this is something which Sarah’s sister doesn’t agree with.

“I just wonder why Finian McGrath in his role as the minister, particularly in his role as minister for disability, has chosen this path. We have looked under the freedom of information for Sarah’s files to know who has had access to her file and yet we still haven’t got that.

“In one sense I think we’re very fortunate that we have some really strong individuals who have gone forward as whistleblowers and we know that whistleblowers are not treated very well in this country.

But I think without them and without the support of lots of champions in the area, this story would be very easily forgotten about and the absolute horrors that have been inflicted on young vulnerable children would be just laid to rest because again the key seems to be keeping it nice and narrow.

Read: HSE ‘regrets but understands’ why Grace’s mother won’t accept their apology

Read: Grace: The four missed opportunities to make her safe

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