Monday 19 March 2018

Government climbdown on extending 'Grace' inquiry to cover other potential abuse victims

Grace’s mother Photo: RTÉ
Grace’s mother Photo: RTÉ
John Downing

John Downing

Taoiseach Enda Kenny today signalled that the Government will expand the ground rules for the €2.5m inquiry into the “Grace” foster home abuse scandal to cover 46 other potential victims.

The significant change follows a complete change of stance within Fianna Fáil which is underpinning the minority Fine Gael-led Coalition. Fianna Fáil initially backed the limited inquiry ground rules – but changed its stance following a public warning by their TD, John McGuinness, who has taken a keen interest in the case.

The Government had come under serious pressure from Labour and other opposition parties to widen the inquiry into the treatment of the disabled Young woman, known only as “Grace,” in a foster home over 20 years.

On Tuesday, Mr Kenny and the junior minister responsible for disability issues, Independent Finian McGrath, had both insisted that the inquiry will be broad enough to cover the cases of other potential victims who lived in the same foster house as Grace over the years.

Both the Taoiseach and Minister said the inquiry, headed by lawyer Marjorie Farrelly, would put the emphasis on the case of Grace – but would then also take in other cases.

Fianna Fáil initially agreed with those inquiry terms with their spokeswoman, Margaret Murphy O’Mahony, saying it was a good practical start.

But today party leader Micheál Martin said the inquiry must be widened. This followed a public warning in the Dáil by Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness that he would vote against the inquiry terms of reference.

The Taoiseach told the Dáil that Minister McGrath was now engaged in talks with the Opposition spokespeople on disability issues with a view to agreeing wider terms.

Mr Kenny said he hoped that amended terms would be agreed quickly and no delay would result.

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