From top: Four Courts, Dublin ; Michael Noonan
In the High Court.
Mr Justice Peter Kelly approved a settlement involving a package worth €6.3million for Grace, the non-verbal, intellectually disabled woman who is now in her 40s and who lived with an abusive foster family for 20 years, until 2009.
Grace lived in the home for almost 13 years after the local health board decided to stop placing children at the home in 1996. The decision to remove Grace came after the mother of a female service user claimed her daughter was sexually molested while she had spent a week on holiday/respite at Grace’s foster home.
The decision to reverse this decision to remove Grace occurred after a letter was sent by the foster father to then Minister for Health Michael Noonan in August, 1996.
The letter to Mr Noonan, which had been copied to the health board, appealed to the minister to “decide in their favour”.
Also in August 1996, Mr Noonan received a letter from the principal of a school attended by the foster parents’ grandson, in which the principal wrote in support of Grace staying with the foster family.
The matter is the subject of a Commission of Investigation, chaired by SC Marjorie Farrelly, launched in March of this year.
Further to this…
Mr Justice Peter Kelly approved a settlement involving a package of measures worth €6.3m for the woman referred to as ‘Grace’.
The Health Service Executive apologised to the woman in court for the failings in her care.
The failings included inadequate monitoring and oversight of her care and inadequate action to remove her from the foster home after significant concerns had been raised.
In its apology the HSE said the care she received fell short of the compassionate, caring and personalised support that she was entitled to.
It said the HSE had taken steps locally and nationally for continued service improvements, standards and safe care.
…Mr Justice Kelly said a decision had been made in 1996 to remove ‘Grace’ from the foster family. But he said that decision had been reversed by a three-person committee in the health board for reasons which remained a mystery to this day.
He said this was after representations were made by the foster parents to the then minister for health.
…He asked what extraordinary hold the foster family had over the health board officials who made the decision. He said if it was not for the fact that a commission of inquiry has been set up, he would have wanted answers to these questions.