Five people are to appear before the District Court on assault charges following a garda investigation into the alleged physical abuse of intellectually disabled people at the HSE-run Aras Attracta centre in Swinford, Co Mayo.
Those who will be summonsed are all staff at the centre where footage was secretly recorded for a Prime Time TV expose last year. Shocking scenes were witnessed in the footage of a number of Aras residents being grossly mistreated.
At different times, there was kicking, hitting, pinching, prodding, dragging and pushing of these patients by a very small minority of clearly identifiable staff.
Following the screening of the Prime Time abuse programme, gardai in Claremorris launched a full-scale investigation.
A dedicated team, headed by Superintendent Joe Doherty viewed some 190 hours of film recorded for the TV expose and took detailed statements from Aras staff.
A file was then forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions. Gardai have confirmed there will be prosecutions as a result of the investigation and summonses against five individuals are pending.
The challenge posed to gardai in completing their investigation can be gauged by the fact that the investigation team spent three weeks poring over the lengthy TV footage.
After the Prime Time programme was screened in December, The Carers Association was flooded with calls from family carers across the country who were upset and shocked by the scenes depicted.
Association spokesperson Catherine Cox described the footage as “terrifying” and said a constant worry for family carers is the care provision for their loved ones when they [carers] are no longer around.
“The fear countrywide among our members is that Aras Attracta is not an isolated case,” Ms Cox added.
The five charged are expected to appear before a sitting of Ballina District Court next month.