Wednesday 17 July 2019

Compassion and truth are absent

Sir -- Kudos to Mary Raftery, and all involved in making the eye-opening and heart-wrenching RTE documentary series Behind the Walls.

I, too, have noted modern Ireland's similarity to Dickensian times when it comes to human rights, dignity and compassion.

Since 2009 I have watched system after system failing my elderly mother, averting their gaze from elder abuse. Her sole caregiver isolated her from her remaining children, grand-children and friends -- those who loved her and wanted to spend time with her. Instead, her last years were spent in complete isolation, cut off by phone, even physically when family visited unannounced, visits disallowed.

My old school friends tell me, remind me, Ireland is a great place, its people compassionate, caring, believing in the truth.

It is three years since I came back to this country, and I shudder at what I have brought my only child home to. Will my native country wear her down as it did me all those decades ago?

I can handle the unemployment. My husband too. We can be frugal. But to witness my mother become a shell of herself is more than I can bear.

You see, I followed all the procedures, the rules, filled out and stamped forms, observed the requisite deadlines. I got silence. Avert your gaze, Ireland. Surely not in 2010, not here?

In my 20s the priest in the confessional told me to say three Hail Marys and four Our Fathers when I revealed abuse. I did and I shut up. Then I fled.

In 2009, the HSE Elder Abuse services, gardai, my mother's GP and even her solicitor ignored her vulnerability while under the care of her sole caregiver.

In 2010 visiting community services, who advised they were monitoring her, declined to investigate a broken shoulder. They remained unaware of two hospital stays, the second her last before her death under very disturbing circumstances. No amount of begging or pleading for an investigation or answers works. Instead, I collect the copious paperwork Irish systems are so enamoured of. I build step by step.

Now, almost a year later, I continue to fight those systems for answers, for culpability. Judging by Behind the Walls, I could be at this another decade or more. Even then, my mother's last weeks and days at the mercy of her sole caregiver will remain as they are now -- secret. I am at the mercy of systems and people who do not want to know, do not want to see. Who will be left to speak out when we are silenced?

Name and address with Editor

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