Tag Archives: Michael Noonan

From top: Denis Naughten (left) and David McCourt; Michael Noonan

Denis Naughten had at least two additional meetings with David McCourt during the procurement process for the National Broadband Plan (NBP), it has emerged.

The former communications minister’s diary shows that he and the Irish-American businessman met in October 2016, when three potential bidders remained in the running for the lucrative rural broadband contract. There are no minutes of the October meeting, which was also attended by officials.

Denis Naughten held further talks with businessman (The Times Ireland Edition)

Meanwhile…

Former Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan met with representatives of Enet, including former government Press Secretary and PR advisor Eoin O’Neachtain, in December 2016 – three months before Denis Naughten made the decision to extend the Municipal Area Networks (MANs) contracts to Enet ” suddenly and without tender”.

Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy said:

“In a series of parliamentary replies to me, including a schedule showing all meetings between either David McCourt, representatives of Enet, and the Department of Communications, it is clear that there was almost an open door policy in Government buildings for Enet and/or David McCourt.

I have said previously that we need to understand the rationale for the former Minister’s decision to extend the MANs contract – which is essentially the precursor to the NBP process – when he did because soon after that contract extension the State bought into Enet at a cost of approximately €200 million and it is important to understand if that extension materially affected the price paid by the State for its 78% purchase of Enet in 2017.

To learn now that the former Minister for Finance met with Enet officials about the MANs just 3 months before the MANs contract was extended in the way it was raises more questions and this is why I have asked the Taoiseach to extend any review of the NBP process to date to include a review of the process leading up to the NBP; namely the MANs contract.”

Previously: Courting David

 

Michael Noonan

Bridget Cole: As minister for Health [December 1994 to June 1997], Michael Noonan refused to grant significant aid payments to victims of the Hepatitis C scandal and resisted Donegal mother Brigid McCole, who was forced to take court action for compensation but died before she could benefit.

Grace:  A mute child, Grace remained in a foster home with an abusive family for more than a decade after other children had been removed. In 1996, after the  Southern Health Board decided that Grace be removed, the foster father sent a letter lobbying then Minster for Health Michael Noonan. Grace was subsequently allowed to stay at the home for another 13 years.

Joanne Hayes: As Minister for Justice [December 1982 to February 1986, Michael Noonan was aware prior to the Kerry babies Tribunal that Gardai would push a ‘superfecundation’ narrative against Joanne Hayes. He was also told, before the tribunal, by Garda Commissioner Larry Wren that his senior detectives had been “grossly negligent”.

Garry writes:

All women/kids/both. All extremely traumatic and vulnerable. All cases involving torture and death. Makes one wonder what sort of mission Noonan believed he was on?

Previously: ‘It Was I Who Was On Trial’


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

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan

A poem to mark the imminent retirement from politics of Michael Noonan, who has spent his life in the upper echelons of Fine Gael.

Ode To Smugness

His head hairs are the thirty million maggots feeding on the carcass of creativity,

His eyes are x-ray beams burning holes through punctured public services,

His ears are oyster shells littered with the pearls of Christine Lagarde,

On the soft sand away from those drowning in the sea,

His bald head is the vulture at the “Everything Must Go” jumble sale,

His nose is an exhaust pouring black smoke on the children’s dreams,

His face is an Alsation keeping people from the truth,

His mouth is a swampy cesspit where poison splutters,

His tongue is a serpent that spits venom on the just and the poor,

His ass is a giant beach ball that Jean-Claude Juncker likes to boot around,

His heart is the army tank that drove on Bridget and her poisoned blood,

His arms are Graf von Faber-Castells writing off the debts of Denis at a stroke,

His legs are bowling pins as Cerebrus strikes it lucky again,

And his feet are roadside sweepers sucking up the crumbs,

The shivering homeless barely looking on

Ian Murlocks

Fight!

Rollingnews

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)

PAC 036_90505399Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 12.04.48

The Public Accounts Committee is launching its report on the sale of Project Eagle.

Now.

The chair of PAC, Fianna Fail TD Seán Fleming said:

“The committee considers that it was not appropriate for Nama, as the contracting body, to meet with Cerberus representatives the day before the Project Eagle bid closing date. It could have given the perception that Cerberus was benefiting from preferential treatment.

“Also. The committee considers that it was not procedurally appropriate for the Minister for Finance [Michael Noonan] to meet with senior Cerberus representatives on the day before the Project Eagle bid closing date. This could have given the perception that Cerberus was benefiting from preferential treatment.”

Facebook live link here

Read the report here

Previously: ‘Not Appropriate’

Eagles, Vultures and Turkeys

UPDATE:

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From top: Daniel McConnell, of the Irish Examiner; Hugh O’Connell, of The Sunday Business Post, and Josepha Madigan, Fine Gael TD and member of PAC

You may recall how, on Sunday, February 12, in The Sunday Business Post, Hugh O’Connell and Jack Horgan-Jones reported on a draft working paper by the Public Accounts Committee into Nama’s sale of Project Eagle.

They reported:

The paper said it was “not appropriate” for the Department of Finance to meet with the ultimately successful bidder, Cerberus, in the days before the closing date for Project Eagle bids. It similarly states that it was “not appropriate” for Noonan or Nama to meet with Cerberus the day before the Project Eagle bid closing date – and that this could be perceived as “special treatment”.

This morning.

PAC’s report no longer states the Department of Finance and the Minister for Finance Michael Noonan’s behaviour was ‘not appropriate’. Instead, their behaviour was ‘not procedurally appropriate’.

Why was it changed?

From the press conference…

David Davin Power (RTE): “You found that Michael Noonan meeting Cerberus wasn’t ‘procedurally appropriate’ and I know there was a contention about that on the committee. Fine Gael members voting against it. But Michael Noonan says that he never had an adequate opportunity to respond to what was ultimately an adverse finding against him and that he’s been unfairly treated, effectively, by the committee.”

Sean Fleming: “Well, he said that, based on the original working document that said it was ‘inappropriate’ but the wording in the report published today refers to the procedures that allowed that meeting to happen. It was procedurally inappropriate. So it’s not quite the same as what was in the original report. And that word is there for a reason. Because this committee is precluded from finding specific fault against an individual person. And we’re looking at the process of that meeting, not specifically the person who attended. I would [inaudible] the distinction between the finding in relation to Nama, where we say it was inappropriate, because we were finding that the body, the corporate body of Nama, rather than that one person, acted inappropriately. But we can’t use that particular word due to legal restrictions, in relation to one individual.”

Davin Power: “But why did you seek to use that word if it was legally suspect in the first place…”

Fleming: “The committee never sought to seek that. There was a working document prepared after some 30,000 sheets of paper presented to the committee and after 11 public hearings. The committee never used that particular wording. The only wording that the committee settled on is the wording in the report.”

Davin Power: “Could you ask one of the Fine Gael members [of PAC] to respond to that point? Are you happy…[inaudible].”

Fleming: “Peter [Burke], if you’re happy?”

Peter Burke: “Thank you very much. First of all, I think to use the words ‘procedurally inappropriate’ is not fair. I would point out that the Minister did attend the PAC meeting, even though he’s not legally required to do so. He spent five hours under intense questioning. He brought forward all information and answers and answered everything very clear and concise and to see a situation whereby he was actually denied natural justice because the response that’s in the report is to a media leak which appeared on the Sunday Business Post. So, in other words, he never got due process or was questioned on the content of this assertion.

“And, to point out, Section 9 of the Nama Act is very clear. That it is independent in its functions in terms of its role with the minister and previous people have brought this up, including our chairman when the act was [inaudible] in the Dáil in 2009, in terms of to keep it outside of the realm of politics, I mean that was very, very important. And to suggest that it’s procedurally inappropriate, one has to ask: what is the procedure? And there is none. If the minister has clear legal separation and there is a former US secretary of the treasury coming over to Ireland to discuss, from banking to insurance to asset management, I think it would be unwise for any minister not to meet him.”

Later

Burke: “… the commercial activities of Nama are driven by the board. The minister has no role in this. And even, as a process, it was mentioned that the minister should have called off the sale, but at that time, he’d no legal power to do so. And there’s departmental legal advice, which was mentioned at the committee here, in relation to that.”

Daniel McConnell (Irish Examiner): “But are you not playing politics with it now? Are Fine Gael not playing politics with the PAC, for the first time in its history, in 94 years, you caused a vote at the PAC, purely to protect the standing of Michael Noonan?

Burke: “No, Danny, that’s not correct. If we look at this, in a fair and balanced fashion. If a minister, who is not legally obliged to attend the PAC, does so of his own free will, in the interest of fairness, in the interest of transparency, on foot of that, that he is denied the right to due process, to respond to a charge that was put to him, that he was never asked one single question on, I think that’s an incredible part of this report. That the minister was denied that right to respond to an assertion that he was never…”

McConnell: “So, who put it in the report initially then? Because this is important. Who put the initial finding of ‘inappropriate’ in the report? Was it a civil servant?”

Burke: “Here is a draft document

McConnell: “So a civil servant…

Burke: “…which was leaked to the Sunday Business Post…”

McConnell: “So it was a civil servant  who put it in, is that what you’re saying?”

Burke: “It was a draft document, I can’t answer that….”

Fleming: “I will answer that, and I will call on David Cullnane [Sinn Fein] next. I, as chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, supervised directly, personally..”

McConnell: “So it was your, that was your, that was your language?

Talk over each other

Fleming: “…reporting in the first instance. What I do want to clarify, people mightn’t have go to it. We put a specific appendix in the report, on page 86, on the issue. We record fully and faithfully everything in respect of the minister’s response. First of all, in that, when we came to that issue of whether or not, at our meeting, and it’s all documented there [inaudible] we had three or four meetings, and Peter and his [Fine Gael] colleagues proposed wording to say, rather than it was ‘not procedurally correct’, to put the wording it was ‘not advisable’. So the board members were satisfied that the report should say it was ‘not advisable’ of the minister. That was voted down and the other wording was put forward.”

“But I just want to respond, before I call on David Cullinane, it was fortuitous in a way that there was a leak because that did give the minister to respond and the content of the letter received by the minister was examined closely by the parliamentary legal office in this house. And [inaudible] essentially responded to any allegations that we were about to make. Even though his letter came in before we concluded. And I do want to say, this is the transcript, the 82-page transcript of the meeting, of the Public Accounts Committee on Thursday, the 6th of October 2016. And I have to say that that meeting, the minister and the people on his side were the only people aware in the room, at that time of the meeting with Cerberus. No member of the committee was aware that a meeting ever happened. And the minister gave no indication whatever of that meeting. To suggest we didn’t ask him something about which we knew nothing about is unusual. He had four and a half hours at the meeting when we invited him in to talk about the sale of Project Eagle. And he spent four and a half hours discussing it and made no reference to that meeting. And there is the transcript if people want to check it.”

Later

Hugh O’Connell (Sunday Business Post): “Do you think you may have dropped the ball, as a committee, in not asking him if he had met Cerberus? And secondly, when you did become aware of it, why didn’t you ask him about the meeting via correspondence?”

Fleming: “The answer to that is we didn’t drop the ball because we weren’t aware the game had happened. Right? No member of the PAC were aware, at the time, that that meeting…”

Josepha Madigan: “Sorry, that’s incorrect. It was subject to FOI, the minutes were actually given in correspondence on the 4th of November…the 8th of November [2015] to the committee, so they were fully aware of…”

O’Connell: “So, why then, did you not write to Michael Noonan and ask him: why did you have this meeting? And what was the purpose of this meeting?”

David Cullinane: “There was a note that was given to the committee under the Department of Finance that set out the official notes taken by officials, in terms of that meeting. And those notes clearly show that Project Eagle was raised and it was raised in the context of Cerberus raised and they were told that it would be best dealt with at a meeting later that day with Nama which we believe that was also inappropriate. So, there was reference to Project Eagle in that meeting. And…”

O’Connell: “Why didn’t you ask him then? Why didn’t the committee call him back in?”

Alan Farrell: “That’s entirely inaccurate…it is entirely inaccurate….you’ve got your dates mixed up, David.”

Previously: Spotlight Falls On Noonan (March 1, 2016)

bon secour

Minister for Finance and Limerick TD Michael Noonan (centre) launching the Bon Secours hospital

Good timing.

Via People Before Profit

Michael Noonan launched Bon Secours in Limerick yesterdayy. This in the wake of the Tuam bodies. The Bon Secours order own a series of private hospitals.

Maybe he was letting the board of Bon Secours know the Fine Gael government would do nothing to the order or their private profits.

Bon Secours made €2.3 million in profit last year and have over €70 million in accumulated profits as of the end of 2016.

People Before Profit have called for vigils at all Bon Secours hospitals for 6pm this Friday.

People Before Profit

Bon Secours group invests €21m in Limerick after Barringtons takeover (Anne Sheridan, Limerick Leader)

Pic Andrew Downes

Screen-Shot-2017-02-20-at-10.26.01

Michael Noonan, Minister for Health (1994-1997)

‘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.

So, why did Grace live there for another 13 years?

What effect did two letters sent to Minister for Finance Michael Noonan, who was then the Minister for Health – calling on him to intervene and to reverse a decision to remove Grace from the home – play in the ultimate reversal of that decision? 

Why did a school principal lobby the Minister Noonan about the case, in favour of the foster parents?

And why did the health board say this principal’s view would be taken into account in “reaching their recommendations in relation to the future care of [Grace]”?

The partially redacted and anonymised HSE-commissioned Conal Devine report, which was completed in 2012 and only published on Tuesday, states the following:

1989: Grace started to live with this set of foster parents on the premise that she would remain there until a residential place was made available for her. She was on a waiting list for such a place.

There is no evidence that the foster parents were assessed at any level as required under the Boarding Out of Children Regulations 1983 or that references were obtained as per those regulations.

There’s also no evidence of any documented visit by the health board to determine the suitability of the home before Grace went to live there.

September 1989: A visit by health professionals is made to the foster home and while the location is praised, there are concerns raise about the following: a lack of other children with whom Grace could socialise; the age of the foster father; and the fact Grace isn’t attending school.

December 1989: The foster parents are informed that a school place has been reserved for Grace from the middle of December.

November 1990: Following a visit to the home, it is noted that Grace hasn’t been back to school since Christmas 1989.

Apparently the reason for the poor school attendance is transport problems but there is no evidence of any effort being made to deal with whatever the obstacles are.

1991: There are no documented six monthly reviews, as required by law, and there is still no evidence of any efforts to accommodate Grace’s school needs.

1992: A request is made for a residential placement for Grace from a residential facility in the birth mother’s home town. The name of the person or organisation that made the request is redacted in the report.

1993: No evidence of any activity around Grace and no documented review visits, as required per law.

1994: There were brief handwritten notes indicating two possible home visits – one on Feb 13 and one on June 17. But no evidence of any documented review visits as per law.

1995: A residential placement for Grace in an area outside of the immediate health board is sought for Grace and it’s noted that this request is due to the foster parents “becoming elderly”. Again the name of the person or organisation who sought the placement is redacted in the report.

May 1995: A psychological assessment notes Grace hasn’t really progressed intellectually or in terms of self care skills since her previous assessment some six year previous, in 1989. It is noted she would benefit from regular attendance at a day care facility – in terms of stimulation and social contact.

However, during a home visit in August 1995, it is noted the foster father did not agree to Grace going to a “workshop” because “there was nothing could be done with her”.

Despite this stance, it was organised for Grace to go to a day care facility. She starts attending the facility on September 4, 1995.

October 17, 1995: During a home visit, it is noted that Grace is taking her clothes off when she gets home in the evening.

October 19, 1995: An incident report from the day care facility, states: “While toileting Grace in the arm, large bruise noticed on left hip, appears tender to the touch. Bruises noticed also on the left elbow and right elbow just visible and not tender to touch. In good form”.

October 25, 1995: Another incident report form, from the facility, states: “For the first time in [the facility] while on social programme training…Grace completely stripped herself for no apparent reason, notified previously of these stripping incidents at home by [redacted]”.

March 1996: The mother of a female service user, at this point living in the UK, claims her daughter was sexually molested while she had spent a week on holiday/respite at Grace’s foster home.

The Devine report notes there was no substantive investigation in respect of this sex abuse complaint.

April 2, 1996: Further to the UK complaint a meeting takes place between the relevant health board professionals. At this meeting, it’s decided that Grace – who is now 17 – will be placed elsewhere.

The Devine report states this is a direct result of the sexual abuse complaint and the age and ill health of one of the foster parents.

Within a week of the meeting, arrangements are made to secure a residential bed for Grace in a facility for people with intellectual disabilities.

The foster father is also told of the sexual abuse complaint made against him at this time.

April 22, 1996: The foster family are notified of their right to appeal the decision to remove Grace.

April 23, 1996: There is a case conference attended by “all the relevant professionals”, of which there are no minutes taken. There’s also no evidence of anybody from the day care facility being invited to attend – even though Grace had been attending the facility for seven months.

Although there are no minutes kept, it’s noted that the case conference is told “Grace was reverting to her former agitated behaviour” but it’s not known who made this claim or where it came from. It didn’t come from the day care facility.

Also, at that case conference, it is noted the foster parents would appeal the decision to remove Grace and those present agreed to await the outcome of that process before proceeding with Grace’s removal.

In addition, at this case conference, it is noted that the health board will no longer use these foster parents.

April 24, 1996: The foster father requests that the family be given time to allow their grandchild get used to Grace leaving and they suggested Grace be allowed to remain with them until the autumn. There’s no evidence of that letter being replied to or being discussed further by those involved in the making the decision to remove Grace.

But we know, from the Devine report that, at some point, a bed that was left vacant for Grace from April that year was filled on the basis that a placement would be made available for Grace at the end of that summer.

May 17, 1996: The foster parents put their case before two professionals – Ms Marie Kennedy and Dr Marie Ryan – as to why they should be allowed to keep Grace. The minutes of that meeting recorded three questions which required clarification.

There is no mention of what the foster father had requested in his letter of April 24 – that Grace be allowed to stay with them until the autumn.

The questions are:

– Was Grace reviewed during the course of her placement and were the foster parents aware that alternative placements were being explored for her?

At what level did discussions take place in relation to moving Grace to an alternative placement?

– What reasons were given to the foster parents in relation to the proposed move.

There’s no record of these questions being followed up and there’s no record of the two professionals making any decision or recommendation, following the meeting.

August 9, 1996: The foster family sends a letter to the then Minister for Health Michael Noonan which had been copied to the health board. This letter states they had “lost their appeal” and that they were appealing to the minister to “decide in their favour”.

The foster father also writes:

“We have looked forward to having Grace for a few more years in fact until my wife reached retirement age. How anyone can say the type of move envisage for Grace is in her best interest beats all.”

Our grandson is 8 years of age who lives with us has always regarded Grace as his sister and to suddenly part them would be very upsetting for him particularly as his mother died last year.

“…I can see no valid reason for this move…”

August 15, 1996: Six days later, according to the Devine report, the Department of Health requests a report on the matter from the health board.

August 20: Five days later, the Department of Health is notified that the matter is being dealt with under Section 43 of the Child Care Act. The health board tells the Department of Health it has “grounds for believing that it is in the best interests of the child to be removed from its current child care placement“.

The same letter to the Department of Health says the foster carers’ objections were heard “as per regulations” and that the plan to remove Grace was going ahead following “an agreement to leave her with the family for the summer”.

But there’s no record or file of any such agreement. There’s only the April 24 letter in which the foster father requested this arrangement, citing his grandson’s relationship with Grace.

August 26, 1996: The Minister for Health Michael Noonan’s office receives a letter from the principal of a school attended by the grandson. The principal writes in support of Grace staying with the foster family.

September 11, 1996: The Department of Health gives this school principal’s letter to the health board with a request for a report.

September 12, 1996: A day after Minister Noonan’s department passes on the letter from the school principal to the health board, it’s recorded that, during a visit to the home, the foster parents say they are going to oppose Grace’s removal and that they have written to Michael Noonan.

September 25, 1996: In response, the Department of Health is told the matter is “currently under consideration by the professional staff on the board” and that the school principal’s view would be taken into account in “reaching their recommendations in relation to the future care of Grace.”

October 24, 1996: A case conference takes place. The Devin report notes:

“There is some dispute in recollection between the professionals as to whether a decision was taken not to remove [Grace] prior to the case conference held on 24th October 1996. There is also a dispute as to why the decision to remove confirmed at the case conference in April 1996 was effectively overturned in October 1996. The [redacted] is of the view that the decision was taken at the case conference  while the [redacted] was of the view that the decision not to remove was because “the appeal” by the [redacted] was successful.”

If you recall, in his letter to Minister Noonan, the foster father said he lost the appeal.

In addition, the Devine report noted:

The Inquiry Team, on the basis of the evidence available, would be of the view that the two persons designated to hear the representations made by the [redacted] did not uphold the appeal of that decision. The inquiry Team would also be of the view that the decision taken at October’s case conference to effectively reverse the outcome of the April case conference was taken by the professionals concerned including the [redacted], [redacted] and the [redacted]. It is not clear however if this decision was made prior to the October case conference or was taken at the case conference.”

Either way, at the case conference of October 24, 1996, it is noted “there is no evidence that anything happened to Grace or that her well being or welfare are not being met..” but, at the same time, the conference is also told neither the health board or any intellectual disability service provider would be placing any further children at that home.

November 14, 1996: The foster parents are told that Grace will be staying with them.

2000: The foster father died.

February 27, 2001: During a visit to the home, the foster mother says she’s relying on the income that she receives for looking after Grace and says she’d like Grace to stay with her and her grandson until he turns 18, which would be in 2006.

March 27, 2009: After it’s noticed that Grace had suspicious bruising on her thigh and breast, she’s taken to A&E and then a Sexual Assault Treatment Unit. A statement is also taken by gardaí. She was later returned to the foster home as it was “the least worst option”.

Grace remained at the home until July 17, 2009.

Protected disclosures by whistleblowers in relation to the treatment of Grace are made in late 2009 and early 2010.

A total of 47 children with profound intellectual disabilities were placed at the home between 1985 and 2013.

Read the Conal Devine report here

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

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much better than those three giant png files that were slowing down screenloading. Anyone?

From top: Letter from Grace’s foster parents to then Minister for Health Michael Noonan in 1996; page 30 of the Conal Devine report; the panel on last night’s Tonight with Vincent Browne; Daniel McConnell; and Vincent Brown and Gavan Reilly, of Today FM

Last night.

On TV3’s Tonight with Vincent Browne, the panel – Fianna Fail TD Mary Butler, Fine Gael TD Alan Farrell, Labour TD Jan O’Sullivan and political editor at The Irish Examiner Daniel McConnell – discussed the Grace case.

It followed the publication of the 2012 Conal Devine and 2015 Resilience Ireland reports into the case yesterday.

Grace is a non-verbal, intellectually disabled woman,  now in her 40s, 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.

An original 1996 decision to remove Grace from the abusive home, amid allegations of sexual abuse, was overturned following representations to the then minister for health Michael Noonan in August 1996.

During the discussion, Gavan Reilly, of Today FM, read out tweets that were being directed at the show.

From the show…

Daniel McConnell: “Vincent, one of the starkest things that came out of the press conference today and also the interviews from the HSE’s designated spokesperson was, when it got to the idea of accountability, the three people who were involved in the decision to leave Grace in the home in 1996 – which was an overturning of an earlier decision to remove her from the home – they’re no longer with us, so, therefore, we can’t pursue that angle.”

The HSE don’t have powers of compellability so we can’t even ask them. So, therefore, it’s just, they’re gone, they’re off the hook. There are 11 other healthcare workers, remaining in the system, but yet the HSE are convinced that there’s no difficulty or there’s no risk to child. How do they know if they haven’t even asked the people who were involved, as to what went on?

Later

Gavan Reilly (after reading several tweets):  “It has to be said, Vincent, there’s one other common thread in the tweets and it’s something that I think relates back to a point that Daniel just made a few moments ago which is a lot of people are querying why there hasn’t been more made today, in the media coverage, about the role that Michael Noonan played in this, bearing in mind that Michael Noonan was the Minister for Health in 1996, when a decision was made to remove Grace from this particular home. The foster family, themselves, approached Michael Noonan, he passed it down the line and, ultimately, a decision was made, further down the line, not to remove Grace from that home.”

“Now, as Daniel has said, there’s obviously significant shortcomings in the fact that the three people responsible for that decision have yet to be approached by the HSE because, it says, it doesn’t have compellability – that is, possibly, the only lingering reason why a Commission of Investigation would still be a good thing. But, just to finish this point, Vincent.”

“The report today, and it has to be said, and there is other commentary around Michael Noonan, and no doubt there are questions to answer, the reports today, particularly, the Conor Dignam report, there is nothing damning about the handling of this case by Michael Noonan in that, quite simply, because it doesn’t go into any detail at all.”

“The only instance where Michael Noonan is invoked in that is  that the family wrote to Michael Noonan, Michael Noonan passed it down. There is no indication that Michael Noonan gave any instruction, either way, that’s something that has to be sounded out. But I just, I think, it should be said because a lot of people are wondering, they think that the coverage  is a little bit lacking because it doesn’t incorporate the role of Michael Noonan and I think the point just has to be made: that the reports today didn’t make any comment on the performance of Michael Noonan and it doesn’t shed any light on that.”

Watch back in full here

Related: Grace files: Grace scandal officials given senior roles (Irish Examiner)

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

Grace, Noonan and Monageer

Pic: Irish Examiner and Namawinelake

noonan093016-Garrett-O-Halloran

From top: Michael Noonan; Garry O’Halloran

Garry O’Halloran is a barrister, former Fine Gael councillor and former chairman of the South Eastern Health Board.

Readers may recall a previous post outlining how, in 1997, Mr O’Halloran attempted to speak with the Minister for Finance Michael Noonan – then Minister for Children – about allegations of child sex abuse in relation to Fr Jim Grennan, who had abused several children in Monageer, Co. Wexford, the diocese of Ferns. 

According to Mr O’Halloran, Mr Noonan ran away from him when he attempted to speak to him about this at a Fine Gael Ard Fheis in 1997. One of Fr Grennan’s victims was with Mr O’Halloran at the Ard Fheis.

Mr O’Halloran resigned from Fine Gael following the incident.

Mr O’Halloran came forward to recall his non-meeting with Minister Noonan at the Ard Fheis in 1997 – after he heard Minister Noonan give an interview with Richard Crowley on RTÉ Radio One on Thursday, February 4, 2016.

During that interview Minister Noonan was briefly asked about the letters he received about Grace.

Mr O’Halloran knew nothing of Grace when he heard the interview – but it jogged his memory in relation to Fr Grennan. Mr O’Halloran also felt it was important to explain that the case of Grace was not an isolated incident.

Further to this, and the publication earlier today of the Conal Devine report and the Resilience Ireland report into the Grace case…

Mr O’Halloran writes:

A few questions and answers:

Q1: How many inquiries does it require to establish the truth in respect of a single event?

If the event was to overturn a lawful decision taken by social workers to remove a young woman with disabilities from her residence, and that decision was overturned following the intervention of then Health Minister Michael Noonan, the correct answer at this moment in time is ‘at least six’.

The inquiry presently being set up has been preceded by

  • 2007 report of a SEHB (South Eastern Health Board) social worker;
  • 2009 report of a non-SEHB social worker;
  • 2012 report by Conal Devine;
  • 2015 report by Resilience Ireland;
  • 2016 report by Conor Dignam SC.

It is not known how many Garda reports may be in existence.

Q2: Three reasons why this issue is important:

A beautiful young woman, whose disabilities rendered her unable to verbally communicate and whose mental age remained at 12 months old, was exposed to possible daily rape and other forms of torture for an additional 9 years as a result of the Noonan intervention.

The parents/guardians of 47 other persons with disabilities who had been sent to this Kilkenny residence were never informed of the disclosures of rape and torture. Respect for the rule of law and confidence in the institutions of the State are in unequivocal jeopardy.

Q3:  What actually happened?

A case conference in May 1996 on ‘Grace’ determined that she be removed from her foster-carers. This decision could not be implimented immediately as there were no placements available for persons with a disability. When arrangements were made, the foster-carers were informed in September and given the standard three days to deliver up the child.

The foster-carers appealed this decision, as was their entitlement under the 1995 Foster-Care Regulations. The oral appeal was held before Ms Marie Kennedy and Dr Marie Ryan, and the decision to remove Grace was upheld.

By letter dated August 9, 1996 (see copy exhibited in a report by the political editor of The Irish Examiner, Daniel McConnell), the foster-carers appealed directly to Minister Noonan.

Minister Noonan acted on this letter, notwithstanding that the whole area was governed by statute, and including the new Foster-Care Regulations.

Minister Noonan passed the matter on to his junior ministerial colleague, Minister Austin Curry (as again happened in the ‘Monagear’ case a few months later).

Minister Curry passed it on to an official of the Department of Health (DoH). The DoH official passed it on to the SEHB.

The SEHB operated under a hierarchical structure. At the top was the CEO, John Cooney, who was assisted by programme managers in the areas of general hospitals, special hospitals (ie psychiatric and geriatric hospitals) and community care (covers foster-care).

The Programme Manager for Community Care in the SEHB, Martin Hynes, responded to the DoH official by stating that this was possibly the first decision taken under the provisions of the Foster-Care Regulations, and the decision stood.

A further case conference late in 1996 was informed by the chair, Sandra Merity, that the decision to remove ‘Grace’ was overturned. No clear reason was given, but mutterings about legal advice and a possible three-person meeting in September have proved elusive to all those who have followed the paper-trail.

However, Dr Cathal Morgan of the HSE told Keelin Shanley on RTE’s News At One today that he knew the identity of the three as-yet unidentified persons ‘who were responsible for implimenting the decision of the case-conference’, and he further noted ‘they have left the service’.

In addition to his profuse apologies, Dr Morgan also referred to ‘a HR procedure’, that a Garda investigation is ongoing (he omitted the fact that it appears to have commenced in 2007), and he made repeated reference to the over-riding need for Due Process. This final comment is particularly ironic since it was the interference with due process which condemned Grace.

Q4: How useful are inquiries?

The ‘real news’ about inquiries is that they are invariably set up with a view to kicking the truth down the road – for years, decades, or permanently.

The ‘facts’ established by Inquiries cannot be used in criminal proceedings.

The matters at issue in the ‘Grace’ case are criminal in nature – the decision-makers who subjected Grace to daily torture for over nine years cannot claim immunity from the criminal law. That includes Minister Noonan.

Q5: How can the truth be established?

The very small number of decision-makers and facilitators could just say what happened.
When this does not happen (after the 5 previous inquiries and reports), it is necessary to personally identify the crew, get just one to free himself or herself from the glue, and then expose both the lie and the liars. After that, the truth will find its own level.

Earlier: Failing Grace

Previously: Grace, Noonan and Monageer

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