Saturday 17 August 2019

Resident stayed on in foster home after 'Grace' sex abuse allegation

John McGuinness, chairman of the Public Accounts Committee. Photos: Tom Burke
John McGuinness, chairman of the Public Accounts Committee. Photos: Tom Burke
Wayne O'Connor

Wayne O'Connor

A mother whose intellectually challenged daughter was allegedly sexually abused and raped with implements while in a foster home has said that she wants the HSE to come clean about the abuse.

It has also been revealed that the victim, who has been given the pseudonym Grace, was not the last resident to be removed from the home where the alleged abuse was carried out.

The whistleblowers at the heart of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) inquiry into the abuse said the HSE was trying to silence them.

Several members of the PAC have accused the HSE of lying and misleading the committee over the abuse claims.

Meanwhile, HSE director general Tony O'Brien has confirmed that another resident was left in the home after Grace had been removed in 2009.

However, further allegations about the home have been relayed to the Irish Independent.

They include residents being locked into outhouses, sheds and under a stairs in the facility and sexual abuse being carried out by third parties who stayed at the property.

Grace's mother, who cannot be named to protect the identity of her daughter, has said she now wants answers from the HSE.

She said: "As a family, what we continue to seek is the truth.

"What horror and pain were perpetrated on our loved one, an innocent child who suffered unspeakable abuse while under the care of HSE?"

"How could this have been allowed to happen? On whose watch did this happen? How will the HSE now ensure that it will never happen again?

"We need justice and answers for all those who have suffered at the hands of others."

The HSE said there was a "breakdown in communication" that meant an apology was never given to Grace.

The whistleblowers told the PAC that the HSE was trying to discredit them.

"We remain concerned that the HSE's treatment of us as whistleblowers is as despicable now as it was six years ago," they said. The HSE's actions over the last week are the latest in a series of attempts to silence us.

"We are no longer willing to accept this treatment as we feel we need to send a signal to the HSE and to other people who might wish to speak up for vulnerable people being failed by our health services, who cannot speak for themselves."

Members of the PAC said they needed full clarification and disclosure from the HSE.

PAC chairman John McGuinness said: "There is concern that they (the HSE) have not being giving a full picture of this. We don't know what families or how many of them were referred there and how many were raped and assaulted."

Grace was placed in the foster home in 1989.

More than 40 other children were taken from the home six years later after abuse allegations came to light. Grace remained at the home until July 2009 and was even returned to the home on the day her alleged abuse was reported to gardaí.

Mr O'Brien told RTÉ yesterday that Grace was not the last person to be removed.

A HSE spokesperson last night said they identified one other resident who was removed from the home three months after Grace.

"The family of that one remaining private placement were contacted and formally written to by the HSE advising them of the historical concerns," she said.

Irish Independent

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