He also criticised Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan, who called the two men’s actions ‘disgusting’ at the Public Accounts Committee meeting yesterday.
He then talked about his own experience as a whistleblower, when he raised concerns about the Leas Cross nursing home near Swords in Dublin. Leas Cross was closed down just weeks after a Prime Time report on the living conditions of the nursing home in 2005.
The programme prompted a review of deaths at the home between 2002 and 2005 by consultant geriatrician, Professor Des O’Neill, who found care was deficient at many levels and consistent with a finding of institutional abuse.
Mr Harrold told Joe he raised concerns about Leas Cross before the Prime Time programme…at great expense.
Mark Harrold: “I highlighted the whole issue around Leas Cross, eventually lost an Employment Appeals Tribunal, that was all over the papers but what doesn’t appear in the papers is having spent, or being handed a bill for €75,000 for the Employment Appeals Tribunal. I couldn’t afford, I had two little children and I couldn’t afford…”
Joe Duffy: “So, what you, hang on, you raised issues about Leas Cross, you were a psychologist, were you working there or…?”
Harrold: “Yes I was, I was.”
Harrold: “…And a month after, well I tried to get something done for two years internally, and a month later…nothing happening and a month later, or sorry I wrote to the Minister for Health. And a month later I had eight allegations levelled against my work performance.”
Duffy: “But Mark, are you saying this was all before the Prime Time exposé?”
Harrold: “It was during that time. Yeah, it was before and after that.”
Duffy: “So you’re saying you raised with the Minister for Health before Prime Time?”
Harrold: “Yeah, oh yeah..”
Duffy: “…serious issues in Leas Cross?”
Harrold: “Yeah, and there was a report produced that vindicated all of what I highlighted and how, you know, Peter McKenna was the man who died in Leas Cross and he was a man with Down’s Syndrome and he died within 10 days of neglect…”
Duffy: “He’d been moved from St Michael’s…”
Harrold: “…that was all vindicated. Yeah, against the family’s wishes. That was all sort of cleared in the reports but I mean, then you get engaged in a whole, sort of, process that you know you’re supposed to engage in due process and you run around, you know, like a headless chicken. The issue is though that you’re there with your principles and your house. And you’re up against an institution with unlimited public funds, you know, and surrounded..you know these individuals who perpetrate this kind of behaviour, you know they surround themselves by these nodding numpties and there’s plenty of legal sort of companies prepared, because they know there’s repeat business there and, you know, that’s the isolation and I suppose that’s what I found distressing yesterday [PAC meeting]”
Duffy: “How did it distress you?”
Harrold: “Well have we learned nothing? There is no respect, there’s no comeback on somebody who stands up on principle and says ‘this is wrong’ and I say that in the context of particularly…you know I think of even Joe Higgins, you know, when he stood up in the Dáil and how he was ridiculed and subsequently proven absolutely correct. And the reality is that there is a consequence for us walking away. I mean people might say, you know, walking away from this issue, ‘ah I’m not going to get involved’ but the reality is there’s a huge cost down the line.”
Duffy: “And was there a physical cost on you? You say €75,000 which is an incredible figure.”
Harrold: “I’ll be paying it until I retire, Joe. I’ve since had four
stints stents put in. I’m not saying it was exactly as a direct result of that but certainly the stress of it, and we have a family history, but the stress of that certainly didn’t help.”
Previously: What Is Corruption?