Sunday 23 April 2017

What if 'Grace' had been left in the care of the Church?

The tragic case of 'Grace' shows that being in the hands of the State is no protection against abuse, writes Eilis O'Hanlon

So much pain: A memorial at the area where many infants’ bodies were buried in Tuam
So much pain: A memorial at the area where many infants’ bodies were buried in Tuam

Eilis O'Hanlon

Any temptation to hope, in the wake of the Tuam babies tragedy, that children are automatically better off in the care of the State than the Church is tested to the limit by the case of the young girl known as 'Grace'.

At the age of 10 in 1989, the severely intellectually disabled girl was left in the hands of a foster family in Waterford, remaining there for the next 20 years, despite concerns about her welfare and a succession of sexual abuse allegations emerging.

A decision was taken in 1996 to remove her from the home after one such allegation, but this was overturned by a three-person panel from the former South Eastern Health Board, for reasons that remain unclear. Two reports were compiled into the case.

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