Saturday 24 March 2018

'Grace' abuse case whistleblower brings High Court action against HSE

High Court
High Court
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

A whistleblower in the Grace foster home abuse case has initiated High Court proceedings against the HSE.

The case is being taken by a social worker, one of three people who made protected disclosures raising serious questions about the care of a young intellectually disabled woman.

The woman, known as Grace, was left in a foster home for 17 years after health officials were first informed of allegations of physical and sexual abuse there.

The proceedings are the second legal action against the HSE in connection with the Grace case. A lawsuit for damages being taken on behalf of Grace is not being contested by the HSE. A commission of investigation is also being set up by the Government.

High Court records indicate the social worker's case was initiated in May.

A statement of claim, detailing the allegations made against the HSE and the relief sought by the social worker, has yet to be filed.

But it is understood damages will be sought for alleged detriment to her reputation.

The social worker declined to comment, citing legal advice, when contacted by the Irish Independent. She is not being identified for legal reasons.

Speaking at the Dáil Public Accounts Committee last February, Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said two of the whistleblowers, including the one taking the case, felt they had been ignored by the HSE and had their professional credibility called into question.

She said they complained their reputations had been damaged, and that statements were released by the HSE referring to meetings with their agency that did not take place.

HSE director general Tony O'Brien said it was clear the whistleblowers had "done a significant service", leading to the removal of Grace from the home and the launching of two independent reviews.

A HSE-commissioned investigation following protected disclosures by the whistleblowers was criticised as "inadequate" in a report by senior counsel Conor Dignam, due to its limited terms of reference.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News