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Allegations of abuse about another child at 'Grace' home reported to gardaí in 1996

The cases of four other service users were formally identified by An Garda Síochána.
Mar 1st 2017, 7:45 AM 11,176 20

ALLEGATIONS OF ABUSE against four other service users at the ‘Grace’ foster home have been highlighted in a newly-released report.

Two reports into the controversy were released yesterday. The Conal Devine investigation concluded in 2012, while the Resilience Ireland (RI) concluded in 2015. The release of the reports was delayed for legal reasons.

In 2015, RTÉ’s This Week revealed the story of ‘Grace’ – a young woman with profound intellectual disabilities who was left in a foster home in the Waterford area for almost 20 years despite a succession of sexual and physical abuse allegations.

In 1995, on the back of these claims, the South Eastern Health Board decided not to place any further people in the home. However, a decision to remove Grace was overturned in 1996. As a result she stayed in the home until a whistleblower’s complaint in 2009.

Also in 1996, allegations of abuse connected to a different service user at the home were reported to An Garda Síochána, one of a number of issues outlined in the RI Report.

Four cases 

The reports released yesterday show that 47 children were placed in the home over a 20-year period.

The Devine Report looked into Grace’s case, while the RI Report looked at the 46 other service users who were placed with the foster family primarily in the period 1983-1995.

The RI Report notes that during the course of the enquiry four service users were formally identified by An Garda Síochána “initially to the HSE who then made appropriate referrals to Tusla”.

The report found that:

  • One service user who had a short placement with the foster family in the 1980s later said they were locked in a cupboard in the home
  • It was not clear that another service user was in foster care with the foster family
  • A third service user had two long placements with the foster family in the 1990s and there were concerns about the care provided during these placements
  • A fourth service user had three short placements in the foster home in the 1990s. Allegations of abuse were reported to An Garda Síochána in 1996

It recommended that further investigations be carried out into these cases.

Apology 

Commenting on yesterday’s publication of the reports, Aileen Colley, chief officer of the HSE’s community healthcare organisation in the south-east, said: “The HSE is concerned at the serious deficits in the care provided to children and young adults with an intellectual disability who had placements with this family, primarily during the 1980s and early 1990s.

I want to restate our apology to the people concerned and their families, in particular, to the one service user who was the main subject of the Conal Devine inquiry.

“It is important to reassure those concerned, and the wider public, that the HSE did not wait for the reports to be published in order to commence a structured process, and working closely with Tusla, to address the deficiencies identified in child care and disability services, and to act on the reports’ recommendations.

“These recommendations capture the extent and nature of the failings in the service, the learnings of which continue to be implemented locally and nationally. Significant developments have already taken place in both child care and disability services since 2010/2011 and this continues to be the case.”

Last year, the government announced a statutory commission of investigation into the scandal would be established. Minister of State for Disabilities Finian McGrath will bring the terms of reference for the commission to Cabinet next week.

Speaking in the Dáil yesterday, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said: “The treatment of [Grace] is a disgrace to us as a country.

“These two reports speak for themselves and they are shocking.”

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

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

Read: TD claims HSE manager tried to destroy career of whistleblower in Grace abuse case

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Órla Ryan

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