Tag Archives: Grace

Yesterday.

Dail Eireann.

Grace’ was born to a single mother in the southeast of Ireland in the late 1970s. She was supposed to be put up for adoption but, instead, was put into foster care soon after her birth. She was born with microcephaly and was mute.

From 1989 until 2009, Grace lived with a set of foster parents.

The foster father – who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1999 and who died in 2000 – was accused of sexually abusing another child in their care in 1996, at which point it was decided that no more children would be placed in their care.

However, Grace was put back in their care for another 13 years of almost constant abuse.

TDs heard from Disabilities Minister Anne Rabbitte that two new investigations into serious failures in disability services have been launched by the HSE in the Southeast, the same area where ‘Grace’ was abused.

Kilkenny Fianna Fáil TD John McGuiness told the chamber:

“I listened carefully to the remarks of the Minister of State and the other contributors to this discussion and I have to say that I am shocked and appalled that what is happening here today is a further abuse of Grace and the 46 others.

We are completely ignoring the fact that there are reports within the HSE that clearly outline what happened to Grace. In the beginning, when this happened and the whistleblowers decided they were going to explain the case, it came up at the Committee of Public Accounts under the guise of the money that was spent on the Resilience Ireland report and the Conal Devine report.

“That is how it began to seep out into the public domain. That is how it was exposed. It was not the HSE or any other body else facilitating an inspection of what went on or an investigation.

The minute all of this happened, the two whistleblowers were targeted by the HSE. They were targeted in their employment in Waterford and they were put under horrendous stress.

“I read the reports from the whistleblowers. I discussed it with them. I could not believe this type of abuse could happen in our State; that a young woman was put into a home and sexually abused and that sexual abuse was reported by a HSE worker because he was concerned that she had objects put into her that would cause her a bowel problem in her future, as it did. It was reported to the Garda and nothing happened. The HSE called to the house and inspected it and found that she lived there with three male residents.

“There were people found locked under the stairs. There were children in outhouses. There were men of the road, as they were called at the time, calling to and leaving that house, and nothing was done. When the whistleblower, against the wishes of the HSE, went to court seeking for Grace to be appointed a ward of court and for her to be the Committee, the HSE resisted this, but she ploughed ahead and was appointed.

“The other really disgusting thing about this case is that it continues today through the Department of Health and the Waterford Intellectual Disabilities Association, WIDA, because the whistleblower lost her job as a result of contacting Deputies about the case. That is what she was told. As strong as she was, she took a case to the High Court. The case was settled on the steps of the court with what I am sure was some sort of financial reward, so we are never going to know what happened.

“How much did the Department of the Minister of State or did WIDA pay in legal fees and in settlements to keep Grace’s whistleblowers quiet? Is it a fact that the whistleblower had to sign a confidentiality agreement? Will we ever know what was said?

“We know enough in these reports to know that there was corruption and criminality involved, and the Garda or the State took no action whatsoever. Instead, when the Committee of this person, Grace, decided she was going to find out exactly what happened, she received reports like the ones I have in my hand, blanked out and redacted.

“No sense can be made of some of the pages in the reports, except for the commentary that Grace spent years attending a day care centre. She turned up, stripped off her clothes and presented lying on the floor in a sexual position. She was non-verbal and intellectually and physically challenged. Nobody reported the abuse. Nobody thought fit to report the bruises on her thighs, legs and breasts, which were all inflicted by the hands of people, and not, as it was said, by a fall on the bus.

“Nobody spoke up for her or tried to help her. Other children in that house were left at the end of the road to make their own way to school or elsewhere. No one asked where Grace was. It was said that she had a cold, she was not well or she would not be in. She had not seen a doctor for six years.

“All during the time after the Committee was appointed, the HSE continued to stonewall the efforts of the Committee to get the information that was required, including even her medical information, so that person, the Committee, responsible for Grace would be able to take some form of care of her. It did not happen.

“Looking through the many redacted reports from 2009 and previously, it can be seen that incidents were reported to Piltown Garda station. I spent two hours in Pearse Street Garda station making a protected disclosure and nothing has ever happened. I have not heard a single word from them. Dogs will bark but the caravans will move on. This debate will end.

I am holding the Taoiseach and the Government to account on this. I believe that the Dáil should insist on accountability. The Taoiseach and the Minister should be sitting in the Chamber listening to what happened to Grace and responding, not hiding behind legal advice or rules about who cannot be named.

“Someone sexually abused Grace and others in that house. They abused her financially, because they took her disability allowance and paid nothing to her. When the Committee got two boxes of her belongings back, there were clothes in them that could not be associated with Grace because they were too big for her. There were thongs in a box that were not hers. Other underwear and items of clothing in the boxes were not hers.

“Some of the clothes were filthy. There were no photographs, birthday cards or Christmas cards. There was nothing, only two boxes. When the HSE was asked if it wanted to see the two boxes received by the Committee, it declined.

‘In the investigation by the Committee – the person who blew the whistle – the HSE did not reply to some of the queries she put to them. They ignored her and said that it was a godsend that we have such places to send these children to. What a disgusting way to treat that young woman and all of the other 46 victims.

“I stood on the other side of the Chamber in opposition and insisted that what the former Minister of State, Finian McGrath, presented was wrong and that he was ignoring the 46 victims and other aspects of the case. In fairness, Deputy Howlin and others stood up and demanded change. My party supported what was to be a lesser type of debate, which is pretty typical, because it wanted to protect the institutions and the agencies.

“If we do not open up and demand transparency and accountability in this matter, and if the Minister and the Taoiseach are not asked to come back to the House to answer the questions that we have all raised here today, then we should be ashamed of ourselves.

“We should understand that we are further abusing Grace and the other 46 victims. I would like to know what is going to happen to the other 46 victims. Are we going to have more rosy reports put before us? It is horrendous, absolutely horrendous.

“The money of the State was used by the HSE, through solicitors, to perpetuate the corruption that went on, and the turning of a blind eye to what was happening. It happened on the border of counties Kilkenny and Waterford. It is shocking to think that even the red flags from the UK authorities were ignored.

“I could go on and on, because I have all the evidence with me. Suffice it to say, the whistleblower, the Committee of Public Accounts, and in particular, former Deputy, John Deasy, did an excellent job in uncovering what must be the greatest scandal of our times. We are adding to that scandal and pain with the response that the Minister of State read out here today. If we do not demand accountability, then what is this House for? How do we represent people and ensure that this does not happen again?

“There was the Kilkenny incest case. There are lots of examples from back then, and nothing has happened. When newer Members to this House contribute to the debate, which I welcome, they miss the central point, which is the State knew about it all along.

“Officials knew about it. Those responsible for the care of these people knew about it and reported it. The officials did the usual thing that the State does. They employed people who were at one time employed by the HSE but were now in private practice to investigate. The investigations were a complete and utter whitewash.

The detail of this report may be okay and may look grand. It does not give any kind of description to the abuse that these 46 people suffered when they were in the care of the State – none. Having listened to the two whistleblowers and read the reports, it is the first time in my 24 years here that I have been sickened to the pit of my stomach. I cannot believe it happened.

In conclusion, when the officials came before the Committee of Public Accounts, they told blatant lies about what they had done. They should be called back in and put through the ringer in relation to the misinformation that they gave this House.

Politicians will be blamed for the wrongdoing, but there are individuals in the HSE who know what went on. They are criminals. They should be brought to court, they should be prosecuted and we should not be afraid to chase them down.”

Watch: Emotional McGuinness slams HSE officials as ‘criminals’ (irish Examiner)

Previously: Michael Noonan and Grace

 

Michael Noonan

This morning.

Via The Irish Examiner

Two interim reports seen by the Irish Examiner from the Farrelly Commission into allegations of abuse of Grace and 46 others who stayed in the home identified specific failings by health workers who were charged with Grace’s care.

However, the investigation cleared former Health ministers Michael Noonan and Austin Currie over their handling of the case in 1996, after a decision to remove Grace from the home was controversially overturned after the foster father wrote a letter to Mr Noonan.

…it concluded that the actions of Mr Noonan and Mr Currie did not constitute an interference in the case and their actions were “within the scope of accepted custom and practice at the time”.

“There is no evidence of any nature seen by the Commission or brought by any party to suggest that improper influence was brought to bear by the ministers of their officials in the manner in which any of them performed their functions,” the report states.

In evidence, Mr Noonan’s private secretary told the Commission that he had no recollection of the letter of reply to Mr X being shown to Mr Noonan.

The report states that Mr Noonan told the Commission that he had never seen the correspondence from Mr. X.

Mr Noonan gave evidence that he did not know Mr and Mrs X and he had no contact with them other than what was apparent from the correspondence.

When contacted by the Irish Examiner this week, Mr Noonan said he had no comment. Mr Currie similarly had no comment when contacted.

‘Grace’ foster parents had criminal convictions (Irish Examiner)

Previously: Michael Noonan And Grace

RollingNews

Michael Noonan (above) was Minister for Health when ‘Grace’ was returned to an abusive foster parent in 1996

This morning.

Via Independent.ie:

Gardaí are recommending criminal prosecutions following their lengthy investigation into the long-running ‘Grace’ foster home abuse case.

…A bulky file has now been submitted to the DPP. This is the second Garda investigation to have been held into the case, which was described by a High Court judge as a scandal [see below]….

An initial investigation was started in 2010 under the direction of a district superintendent.

Gardaí said this began as a result of disclosures made by a social worker, which provided details of possible sexual abuse, emotional abuse and neglect by Grace’s foster parents.

Gardaí recommend criminal prosecution in ‘Grace’ abuse case (Independent.ie)

Meanwhile….

Grace’s mother during a 2017 interview with RTÉ Investigates

Who is Grace?

Grace’ was born to a single mother in the southeast of Ireland in the late 1970s.

She was supposed to be put up for adoption but, instead, was put into foster care soon after her birth.

She was born with microcephaly and was mute.

From 1989 until 2009, Grace lived with a set of foster parents.

The foster father – who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1999 and who died in 2000 – was accused of sexually abusing another child in their care in 1996, at which point it was decided that no more children would be placed in their care and that Grace would be removed.

The foster parents appealed this decision to remove Grace.

In a letter (above) dated August 9, 1996, to the then Health Minister Michael Noonan, the foster father stated that he and the foster mother lost this appeal and that they were appealing to the minister to “decide in their favour”.

On August 26, 1996, Mr Noonan received a second letter appealing for Grace to remain with the foster parents. But this second letter was from the principal of a school attended by a grandson of the foster parents.

On November 14, 1996, the foster parents were told Grace could stay with them.

Grace remained there for another 13 years.

Approving a €6.3million settlement to Grace in 2017, Mr Justice Peter Kelly said the decision to remove Grace  had been reversed by a three-person committee in the health board for reasons which remained a mystery to this day.

Via RTÉ

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.

Previously: Unfinished Business

The “Extraordinary Hold” Foster Family Had Over The Health Board

Grace’s Mother

Rollingnews

Twenty five years.

Were you there?

I Heart Jeff (Whelan’s)


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

This morning.

In the Irish Examiner.

Daniel McConnell reports on an interim report from the Commission of Investigation into the case of ‘Grace’, chaired by Marjorie Farrelly SC.

He reports:

Michael Noonan’s handling of the case of ‘Grace’ while health minister and the role of his department in the 1990s will be the subject of commission of investigation hearings early in the new year, an interim report states.”

“…Mr Noonan has strongly denied acting in any way on behalf of the foster father following written representations seeking to have ‘Grace’ remain at the home.”

Mr McConnell also reports that the interim report was given to Minister for Health Simon Harris and Minister of State for Disability Issues Finian McGrath yesterday and that it will be discussed by Cabinet next Tuesday.

Readers will recall how ‘Grace’ was born to a single mother in the southeast of Ireland in the late 1970s.

She was supposed to be put up for adoption but, instead, was put into foster care soon after her birth.

She was born with microcephaly and was mute.

From 1989 until 2009, Grace lived with a set of foster parents.

The foster father – who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1999 and who died in 2000 – was accused of sexually abusing another child in their care in 1996, at which point it was decided that no more children would be placed in their care and that Grace would be removed.

The foster parents appealed this decision to remove Grace and, in a letter dated August 9, 1996, to the then Health Minister Michael Noonan, the foster father stated that he and the foster mother lost this appeal and that they were appealing to the minister to “decide in their favour”.

On August 26, 1996, Mr Noonan received a second letter appealing for Grace to remain with the foster parents. But this second letter was from the principal of a school attended by a grandson of the foster parents.

On November 14, 1996, the foster parents were told Grace could stay with them.

Grace remained there for another 13 years.

Previously: Grace, Noonan And Monageer

Michael Noonan And Grace

Failing Grace

DUB-Dublin-Four-Courts-and-River-Liffey-from-Merchants-Quay-05-3008x2000noonan

From top: Four Courts, Dublin ; Michael Noonan

This afternoon

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…

RTE reports:

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.

High Court approves €6.3m settlement for Grace (RTE)

Screen-Shot-2016-02-02-at-12.48.06

HSE general director Tony O’Brien before the PAC on February 2, 2016

This afternoon.

At 2.30pm.

Officials from the Health Service Executive, including HSE director general Tony O’Brien, will appear before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in Committee Room 3.

Ahead of this, one of the ‘Grace’ whistleblowers has written a lengthy piece in The Irish Examiner in which she highlights inconsistencies in public statements made by Mr O’Brien and the HSE about the ‘Grace’ case in relation to:

– The HSE’s three-year delay in seeking clearance from the gardai to publish the Conal Devine report and what prompted it to finally seek that clearance.

– Whether or not people who were involved in the Grace case are still working within the HSE.

– Procurement issues relating to the two reports, Conal Devine report and the Resilience Ireland report, commissioned into the foster home.

– Allegations of a cover-up.

Watch the proceedings from 2.30pm live here

Time for someone in the HSE to learn how to say ‘mea culpa’ (Irish Examiner)

Previously: Still In The System

Related: Member of HSE ‘Grace’ panel continues to work for public service (Paul Cullen, Irish Times)

UPDATE:

UPDATE:

Screen Shot 2017-03-23 at 14.52.35Screen Shot 2017-03-23 at 14.52.54Screen Shot 2017-03-23 at 14.56.34

A letter sent by Mr O’Brien to chair of PAC, Fianna Fail TD Sean Fleming yesterday – correcting what he told PAC on February 2, 2016.

Meanwhile…

1

2

Blimey.

HSE chief Tony O’Brien last year (top) and today (above).

Screen Shot 2017-03-09 at 16.00.22

You may recall how, yesterday, the Minister for Disabilities Finian McGrath withdrew the proposed terms and conditions of a commission of investigation into ‘Grace’ and the alleged abuse she suffered at the home for 20 years.

His decision to remove them came immediately after stinging criticism of the proposed terms and conditions by Fine Gael TD John Deasy, from Waterford, and Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness.

Mr Deasy alleged that there was a cover-up by the HSE, saying: ‘this was a concerted and organised attempt to hide information and conceal the truth by a clique of HSE managers‘.

Mr McGuinness recounted the experiences of other alleged victims of abuse who lived at the foster home and said if Mr McGrath’s terms and conditions didn’t include the 46 other people who stayed at the home, the State would be “heaping further abuse” on the families affected.

Specifically, Mr McGuinness said, before Grace, a 12-year-old girl was taken out of the home – after the school she attended told the girl’s mother she would attend school bruised, battered and beaten. Mr McGuinness said the girl’s mother made a complaint to the South Eastern Health Board in 1992 but was “… told to shut up. She was told not to repeat those stories. And she was threatened legally”.

This morning, the Dáil unanimously agreed expanded terms of reference which state the 46 other cases will be examined in a second module of the commission of investigation.

But it’s being reported that families of the 46 other cases and the whistleblowers remain unhappy with the revised terms.

RTE reports:

“The whistleblowers added that while the revised terms state that phase two will undertake an investigation of the recommendations in the report of Conor Dignam SC, the terms omit Mr Dignam’s recommendation to look at “allegations of cover up”. This, they say, is of serious concern.”

Further to this…

Independents 4 Change TD Clare Daly TD spoke about the matter in the Dáil this morning.

And she raised concerns about the connection between law firm Arthur Cox, the HSE and Resilience Ireland, which last week published a 2015 report it was commissioned to do, by the HSE, on the Grace case.

Ms Daly said:

“Minister, I have to say, the entire manner in which this has been addressed has been utterly shambolic and wholly unacceptable and I really hope that this does not come back to bite us.

“And the reason why it is particularly important that we get things right in this case is that we know that the backdrop is, at best, I suppose, economical-with-the-truth information being given, but, at worst, deliberate misinformation around these issues in previous attempts to resolve them so forgive us if we’ve trust issues where the HSE are concerned: we think they are legitimate.”

“Now, yesterday, we went into the meeting with yourself. We wanted to raise the issue of the draft order – the statutory instrument upon which the terms of reference were based. The first response we got was, ‘well, sure, God, nobody else raised that’. We want to address the terms of reference. We had to commission legal opinion from Eame’s solicitors to explain why the order had to be changed and that the terms of reference could be ultra vires if you didn’t do that.”

“We then went on to actually submit changes to the terms of reference – none of which were included I might add.”

“Now, no doubt, minister, you will argue that the order and the terms of reference, in the manner in which they have been changed, will allow us to address all of the issues that we have raised and that is possibly the case. And I seriously hope that that is the case.”

“But I found it ironic this morning that one of the amendments that we specifically had posed was the problem that was highlighted by the PAC [public accounts committee] – the fact that earlier attempts by people to get to the truth, including Government ministers and Oireachtas committees were deliberately thwarted by persons or persons unknown in the HSE. It’s an absolute fact.”

“In terms of the information put out, that the gardai were blocking publication of the reports – not even allowing ministers see them – we know it now that that’s not true.”

We know in the case that I raised with Minister [Leo] Varadkar about a vulnerable person remaining in that facility up to 2015, the minister efficiently asked: are we sending anybody to this? And the answer, very cleverly, he got was: don’t be worrying, Minister. We’re not sending anybody, it might be a private placement but that’s sorted.”

“It wasn’t sorted. So they didn’t actually care about the truth or the person at the centre of it; it was all about covering up for the organisation. And against the backdrop of the Devine Report, which had been hugely discredited, the Resilience Ireland report terms of reference drafted by Arthur Cox who were the legal team that represented the HSE in the Grace case. You couldn’t make this up. Heads have to roll over this.

“I really hope that the changes have got it right and that we be proven wrong on this but there’s a lot hanging on it.”

Anyone?

Previously: ‘Examples Of What Is And Was A Cover-Up’

gracemother

‘Grace’ was born to a single mother in the southeast of Ireland in the late 1970s. She was supposed to be put up for adoption but, instead, was put into foster care soon after her birth.

She was born with microcephaly and was mute. From 1989 until 2009, Grace lived with a set of foster parents. The foster father – who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1999 and who died in 2000 – was accused of sexually abusing another child in their care in 1996, at which point it was decided that no more children would be placed in their care.

But Grace remained

Last night, Aoife Hegarty of RTÉ Investigates spoke with Grace’s mother. The interview was broadcast on Claire Byrne Live on RTÉ One.

Grace’s Mother: “I was pregnant with Grace and I was so young and I had no support and I was in no fit state to look after her so I put her in the care of the SEHB [South Eastern Health Board] and I thought that was the best thing to do at the time, that she’d be well looked after and cared for and I always kept in contact…I had no reason to believe she wasn’t happy  Aa day hasn’t went by that I haven’t thought of Grace, she’s the first thing I think of in the morning and the last thing I think of at night so she’s constantly there with me, always, and always has been and always will be.”

Aoife Hegarty: “What had been your understanding of where Grace was living and what her situation was like?”

Grace’s Mother: “My understanding back then before all the allegations was that she was happy, she was attending her day services and she was just in a loving, caring home and that made me happy knowing that she was happy because that’s what I was made to believe, that’s what I was always told.”

Hegarty: “You did have some contact from the HSE over the years…”

Grace’s Mother: “I did, I had contact, they were asking me mantoux testing and dental treatment… but they never contacted me when there were sexual, allegations of sexual abuse where I needed to give consent for STI testing…

There was plenty opportunities for Grace, where they failed to tell me so I’ve got no faith whatsoever in anything they’ve got to say because all through Grace life in the care of the HSE and the SEHB I was lied to constantly, constantly lied to.”

Aoife Hegarty: “What contact details did they have for you throughout the years?”

Grace’s Mother: “They’ve always had my contact details, I’ve had the same telephone number that I’ve had with the last 30 years and I’ve still got that phone number to this day, they’ve always had contact details. They’ve had my address, yeah they’ve always had my details. They still have my number on file if they went to look through it.”

Hegarty: “The first time that you had any indication there was anything wrong – what were you told on that call?”

Grace’s Mother: “I was told that she was taken to hospital for, to get checked out, that there was bruising to breasts and to her thighs and I was totally devastated…. totally, totally devastated. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, I said I wanted her removed immediately.
I thought how could they do this, how could anyone …. cover up all this from me and to keep her you know, and have her in danger – it was just totally awful, I couldn’t believe it.
I felt very suicidal, I just wanted it all to go away, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Even now I can’t read, I can’t read the freedom of information, I just read clippings of it and that’s enough to send me over the edge. I don’t know when I’ll be able to pick it up, that’s if I’ll ever be able to read it because the bits I did read was just too much, too much to take in.
I won’t rest and I’ll keep going, I’ll keep going until – and I want answers, I want answers and I’m going to keep going til I get these answers because I’ve never gave up on my daughter and I never, ever will. She’s always been on my mind day and night and that will never change and  I will never stop fighting for justice.”

Hegarty: “A big decision for to have your side of the story heard for the first time – why have you decided to sit here and do this?”

Grace’s Mother: I’ve sat here today because my daughter hasn’t got a voice and I’m here to give her that, I’m here for that voice for my daughter ……. and I just never want another child to suffer like that ever, I think it’s wrong, it’s wrong. And these people should be accounted for what they’ve done, …..for the cover ups, for letting my daughter suffer for 20 years without monitoring her and I put my trust and faith in the HSE and that’s what they done.
So I will not rest until I get answers and I’ll keep going until I get answers – the answers I never got I want.

Hegarty: What are you looking for now from the inquiry?

Grace’s Mother: I’m looking for all the answers that I asked and just for them to be accountable for the let down of my daughter Grace.Why they failed her, why they never monitored her, just basically why they left her for 20 years without checking up on her, they’re the answers I want.

Hegarty: “Who would you like held to account?”

Grace’s Mother: The people that failed my daughter, all the people that have failed my daughter and the 47 other children that were meant to be in the care of the foster mother, yeah I want them to be held accountable.

Hegarty: “Have you ever received an apology from them?”

Grace’s Mother: “I got one letter there just a while back but I felt in my heart, it wasn’t coming from the heart, ………. but I don’t accept that apology. No one from the HSE have picked up a phone and apologised to me or asked me how am I doing, nobody have ever done that for me and I don’t accept their apology. I don’t trust them, I don’t trust what they have to say, they’ve told me was that my daughter was doing great, she was in a loving home, which she wasn’t in a loving home ….. and they knew all about it and never monitored her and left her there for 20 years to suffer.”

Hegarty: “You saw Grace recently…”

Grace’s Mother: “It was very emotional but it was lovely yeah, it was a lovely day. We took pictures and it’s the first thing, it’s the last thing I look at, at night before I close my eyes, is her pictures on my phone. It was a lovely day but it’ll be the first of many days.”

Hegarty: So what are the plans going in to the future, for you and for Grace?

Grace’s Mother: “I hope I’ll be in a better place when all this is over to enjoy my time with her, yeah, that’s what I’m hoping but at the moment I just cannot move on until I get all the answers that I want. I feel that it has ruined my life, all this, I have, it’s ruined my life, the lies, the constant lies and the suffering of my daughter has ruined my life, they have and I hope someday like that they’ll be held accounted for and knowing that no one else is going to suffer again that I can move on and be happy.”

Watch back here in full

Transcript via RTÉ (Thanks Laura Fitzgerald

Previously: Michael Noonan And Grace

DrCathalMorganHSE010317_large

12

From top: HSE’s Dr Cathal Morgan; Part of the Conal Devine report on foster child Grace.

You’ll recall the publication of the HSE-commissioned Conal Devine report last week in relation to an abusive foster home in the south-east of Ireland.

The report was completed in 2011 but wasn’t published until this week, with the HSE citing that they were prevented from doing so because of ongoing Garda investigations.

However, documents obtained by RTÉ’s This Week show the HSE only contacted the gardai about the publication of the report in 2015 – three years after it was completed.

Yesterday, This Week, prssenter Colm Ó Mongáin interviewed Head of Operations in the HSE’s Disability Service Dr Cathal Morgan in light of obtaining the documents under the FOI.

Colm Ó Mongáin: “I want to look at the interactions with the gardai. Most recently, on the 16th of November last year, Tony O’Brien [of the HSE] wrote to the Minister for Health and this was concerning the publication of the Conal Devine report. He said, ‘at times, such as this case, [this is the case of Grace], An Garda Siochana requires the HSE to postpone its internal investigations or to postpone the investigations of a report that could, in the view of An Garda Siochana, potentially prejudice ongoing investigations.
In the opening of the Conal Devine report, it says that the inquiry team met with investigating gardai on the 18th of March, 2011. The gardai stated they had no objection to the inquiry proceeding and completing its task in parallel with their investigation. Do you see any inconsistency between those two positions?

Dr Cathal Morgan: “Well, I think, the understanding is that the gardai, at all times, were stating that they had an ongoing criminal investigation and there was a couple of investigations going on. And, at the time, my understanding is, that they were reluctant to see any kind of other work going on whilst they were trying to under take their own investigations.”

O Mongain: “But as far as internal investigations within the HSE going, as early as 2011 [see portion of document above], when Conal Devine was carrying out his report. The gardai didn’t have an objection to his inquiry team carrying out their work. Correct?”

Morgan:Correct.

O Mongain: “OK, so when [HSE chief] Tony O’Brien assured the Minister for Health that, at times such as these, An Garda Siochana requires the HSE to postpone internal investigations, that doesn’t tally with what the Conal Devine report team says about March 2011?”

Morgan: “Well, yeah, I can only give you my understanding. My understanding is that the guards had very clear view that they wanted this to be carried out extremely carefully that they were very very clear, that they wanted to make sure that it didn’t interfere with their own processes, their criminal investigations were being carried out and which are still ongoing.”

O Mongain: “And when were the guards first contacted about the publication of the Conal Devine report?”

Morgan: “I don’t have the exact date here, to hand.”

O’Mongain: “Ok, well in a Freedom of Information request that was submitted by this programme, there was a list of interactions between the HSE and the gardai. And the first interaction with the HSE, to consult on the publication of the Conal Devine report, was the 6th of March, 2015 – over three years after it had been completed. It was also the day after the Public Accounts Committee was contacted with a protected disclosure by one of the whistleblowers. They were contacted on the 5th of March, 2015. And the first contact with the gardai is on the 6th of March, 2016 [sic]. Do you think there’s any connection between those two things?”

Morgan: “I don’t think so. I don’t believe there’s any conspiracy here…”

Later

O Mongain: “The garda investigations are also criticised in the Conal Devine report. Does it not seem strange that HSE, at local level, and gardai, at local level, were effectively being given a veto over a report that was into their conduct?

Morgan: “Well, I think, my read of, the benefit of the Dignam report absolutely clarifies and there was a letter, as you know, that came from the Assistant Commissioner which said that the HSE were perfectly entitled to publish the report but they had to have due regard to the investigation and due process…”

O Mongain: “Well, yeah, that was from Assistant Commissioner Eugene Corcoran. He wrote to the Dignam…and this was on the 15th of July of last year. He said the position of An Garda Siochana, on the matter of publication, should at all times have been understood as being that no objection to publication arises in the circumstances where the interests of affected party and/or the overall public interest require it. In particular, no objection to publication arises in certain stances, where publication is necessary and appropriate to fulfil any or all obligations to the affected party.…”

Listen back in full here

Previously: Michal Noonan And Grace

‘Confidence In The Institutions Of The State Is In Unequivocal Jeopardy’