‘Is A Part Of You Saying, ‘Actually Maybe We Shouldn’t Dig?”



Tuesday’s Irish Examiner showing the letter sent by the foster father of Grace to the then Minister for Health Michael Noonan in August 1996

Further to yesterday’s post about Grace, Finance Minister Michael Noonan and barrister Garry O’Halloran’s calls for Mr Noonan to resign…

Two sisters, Bridget and Margaret, spoke to Joe Duffy on RTÉ’s Liveline this afternoon.

They did the interview because a third sister, who has limited speech and poor mobility, lived in the same foster care home as Grace for brief respite periods on several occasions – in 1983, 1987 and 1989.

Bridget and Margaret said their sister, who is now in her 40s, was first placed there by her South Eastern Health Board social worker, when she was aged 12.

At the time, she would have had the mental age of a two-year-old.

The sisters both recalled an incident where the foster parents contacted the sisters’ family, abruptly telling them to take the girl home. When the family went to collect her, the girl was left alone at the end of the foster home’s driveway.

Asked if the sister could have communicated with them, if she had been abused, Bridget said:

“I don’t think so, no. Only through crying and being terribly anxious.”

Margaret explained that the gardai had contacted her 18 months ago to say that “there was a minor complaint made, nothing to worry about.”

Margaret then gave them a statement about the incident in which her sister was left at the end of the driveway.

Then, on December 9, 2015, Margaret received a letter from the HSE saying that her sister would be a part of a Resilience Ireland report.

She also received an apology from the HSE and clarification that a Garda investigation was under way.

Margaret said she cannot get any other details and is facing having to make requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act.

She also made an appeal for other families affected – it’s believed 40 children lived in the foster home – to get in touch.

Margaret said: “If [any other families affected] would like to talk or come together as a support group, I mean we should have been told before it came out in the media really. We should have been informed, we should have been warned. Not hear about our family member in the media.”

Bridget also said that they’d like to hear from the social worker who was working with their sister. She said the HSE hasn’t offered any support or contact with any other families involved because of “confidentiality” reasons.

Bridget added: “And they said it could be a long time before we found the truth out really, you know, and that’s, that’s hard as well to take on.”

Towards the end of the interview, Mr Duffy asked the sisters to articulate what they’re hoping for.

Bridget: “Just, well, we just hope that she, she wasn’t in this situation but we don’t know and just for other families out there, who are feeling the same way as us, if they want to get in contact, we can [be] stronger in numbers really and to just sit down and talk about it. If they’ve got any, any information that could help us…”

Joe Duffy: “And Margaret is a part of you saying, ‘actually maybe we shouldn’t dig?’

Margaret: “No.”

Duffy: “Maybe…”

Margaret: “No. Sure we have all the right to dig.”

Duffy: “Oh, I know that, I know that, I know that, absolutely. But is part of you saying, ‘oh god..'”

Margaret: “Oh of course you’re afraid what you’re going to find out…”

Bridget: “And what do you do with the information when you get it?”

Margaret: “Who’s going to be held responsible for all of this? The HSE? Who?”

Mr Duffy didn’t ask the sisters about the Irish Examiner’s report earlier this week which showed that Grace remained in the foster care home for another 13 years after the foster father – now deceased – sent a letter to the then Health Minister Michael Noonan asking that she be allowed to stay.

The letter was sent after the health board ruled that Grace be removed and after the family lost an appeal against that decision.

Mr Duffy also didn’t ask the sisters for their thoughts on barrister Garry O’Halloran’s calls for Mr Noonan to resign and for Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan to investigate Minister Noonan.

Listen back in full here

Previously: Grace, Noonan and Monageer

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21 thoughts on “‘Is A Part Of You Saying, ‘Actually Maybe We Shouldn’t Dig?”

  1. Vote Rep #1

    Although I think he is awful, I don’t think Joe was actually saying don’t dig, more asking her if, in the back of her mind, is she somewhat terrified of what else she might find. At least, I hope that was what he meant.

        1. Anne

          The moratorium is for the election though right, not individuals?

          This has nothing to do with the election really..

          1. Anne


            Radio and television broadcasters shall observe a moratorium on coverage of the General Election. The moratorium shall operate from 2pm on the day before the poll takes place and throughout the day of the poll itself until polling stations close.4
            During the period, broadcasters shall ensure compliance with the following:-
            Electioneering and/or references to issues linked to the General Election and/or references by any on-air personnel, including guests, to the merits or otherwise of an election candidate(s) and/or their policies shall not be broadcast while the moratorium is in operation.

            Applying the Moratorium
            In applying the moratorium, broadcasters will need to strike a balance between requirements to keep the public informed over this period and ensuring that programming does not contravene the moratorium as set out above.
            When considering how to apply the moratorium, broadcasters should note the following:
            • The moratorium is not intended to preclude coverage during this period of legitimate news and current affairs stories that are unrelated to the General Election. However, broadcasters should avoid airing content (including breaking news stories) that the broadcaster believes is intended and/or likely to influence or manipulate voters’ decisions during the moratorium period. This is an editorial matter to be considered on a case-by-case basis. “

  2. Joe

    And Noonan has been on RTE plenty of times over the past week. Morning Ireland, Six One, Claire Byrne and more. Never has been asked about it.

    1. Paddy

      Not to mention that FG LAB were the incumbents during the periods. How does Mr Howlin and his bestest friend Michael square that?

  3. Truth in the News

    It has not gone away you know and it won’t, surely it must have dawned on
    on the crowd in RTE that more they try to avoid it, and bury it, the more traction
    it will get….how long before the International Media starts really digging, the utterance’s of Joe Duffy and group think of RTE will be seen for what it is….
    Blatant Censorship….has the concept of denial that was embedded in the
    Catholic Church for generations migrated to certain sections of the Dublin
    media to above all, to the public service broadcaster RTE….if so, then this
    democracy is in trouble.

  4. Observer

    What is the allegation against Noonan?

    I have followed this story a bit, but is there any evidence that Noonan himself saw the letter? I presume as Minister for Health he got thousands of letters every week concerning individual matters like foster care, medical treatment and so on. I doubt he could look at a fifth of them and most were just dealt with by the civil service.

    1. rory

      On the off chance that you’re affiliated with a government party; I’d imagine very few people on this site would be voting Fine Gael anyway, so trying to convince them that Noonan wasn’t involved would be a fruitless exercise.

      If you’re not affiliated with any government party; apologies, and that you for your conjecture.

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