Friday 21 October 2016

Five Áras Attracta staff face charges of assault

Tom Shiel

Published 12/05/2015 | 02:30

The treatment of residents at Aras Attracta such as Mary Garvan triggered an inquiry
The treatment of residents at Aras Attracta such as Mary Garvan triggered an inquiry

Five people are to appear before the district court on assault charges after a garda investigation into the alleged physical abuse of intellectually disabled people at the Áras Attracta centre.

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Those who will be summonsed are all staff at the HSE-run centre where footage was secretly recorded for a 'Prime Time' TV programme last year.

Shocking scenes were witnessed in the footage, of a number of residents at the Swinford, Co Mayo, centre being grossly mistreated.

At different times there was kicking, hitting, pinching, prodding, dragging and pushing of these patients by a very small minority of clearly identifiable staff.

Following the screening of the 'Prime Time' abuse programme, gardai in Claremorris launched an investigation.

A dedicated investigation team, headed by Superintendent Joe Doherty, viewed about 190 hours of film recorded for the TV exposé and took detailed statements from Áras staff.

A file was then forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Gardaí have confirmed there will be prosecutions as a result of the investigation and summonses against five individuals are pending.

The challenge posed to gardaí in completing their investigation can be gauged by the fact that the team spent three weeks poring over the lengthy TV footage.

After the 'Prime Time' programme was screened in December, the Carers Association, a voluntary group, was flooded with calls from family carers across the country who were upset by the scenes depicted.

Association spokesperson Catherine Cox described the footage as "terrifying".

She said that a constant worry for family carers was the care provision for their loved ones when they were no longer around.

Ms Cox added: "The fear countrywide among our members is that Áras Attracta is not an isolated case".

The five charged are expected to appear before a sitting of Ballina District Court next month.

Irish Independent

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