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Gerry O'Carroll: Aras Attracta may be the tip of the iceberg for elder abuse


Paul Murphy TD.

Paul Murphy TD.

Sile Seoige

Sile Seoige

Andy Lee, centre, celebrates after his victory against Matt Korborov.

Andy Lee, centre, celebrates after his victory against Matt Korborov.

Sinead O'Connor

Sinead O'Connor


Paul Murphy TD.

ARAS Attracta was never going to be the only one.

That was my reaction to the news this week that a dossier of 700 separate complaints about nursing and care homes have been passed by a Government TD to the Garda Commissioner.

I'll return to that. But I cannot let what was aired on Prime Time last week pass without comment.

The treatment of patients suffering from long-term intellectual disabilities at the HSE-run facility Aras Attracta, in Swinford, Co Mayo, sent shockwaves of revulsion and anger across the country.

Video footage showed horrific and systematic abuse of three residents: Mary Garvan (right), Ivy McGinty and Mary Maloney by staff in the now-notorious Bungalow 3.

The inhumane and degrading treatment meted out to them by care workers was both nauseating, stomach-churning and deeply upsetting for many viewers, including myself.

Over a period of time these three innocent victims were subjected to physical and mental abuse.

They were kicked, slapped, pushed and shoved around and shown every indignity.

Another resident was forcibly restrained and had a knee forced into her groin while she was force fed. It was truly heartbreaking and deeply disturbing to watch and to see the reaction of these three unfortunate women to this cruel, vile and sadistic treatment.

They were visibly frightened, confused and disorientated at the heartless and callous way the staff behaved. Watching their reaction was heart-breaking, and completely infuriating.

Garda are investigating the footage, and rightly so.

Of course, let us not for one moment believe that Bungalow 3 in Aras Attracta is the only institution in the State where such behaviour is going on. Far from it.

A file of 700 separate complaints have now been passed on by TD Fergus O' Dowd to the Garda Commissioner for investigation.

We can expect more shocking revelations, I predict.

If we have learnt one lesson from the Ara Attracta scandal it is that routine inspections as carried out by HIQA on these institutions are worthless.

Ten months ago they carried out a two-day inspection and came out with a damning report on abuses there, with a raft of recommendations - but despite this, nothing changed.

Until it does, Ireland is, to paraphase Yeats, no country for old men or women.

Break the law Paul? Well, you're no democrat

OUR TDs make our laws, so it's not too much to expect that they also uphold them.

All the more so if they have a legal background.

But megaphone man Paul Murphy seems to have missed the memo on this one. Perhaps, given that he is barely a wet week in the Dail, he's still reading the rulebook. Ignorance is no defence, though I suspect the canny Deputy Murphy knows his law inside out.

That certainly seemed to be the case in a conversation caught on video recently between Murphy and a water meter contractor in a Templeogue housing estate last November.

The TD was there to protest the installation of meters. At one point in the conversation the staff member asked Murphy if he was aware of the law.

The TD says he is, but adds: "Whether I choose to obey the law or not is entirely another question." He later states: "I'm elected to break the law, to be honest. That's why I was elected."

This from a TD who brandished his megaphone at the notorious Jobstown protest, an incident in which the country's deputy leader was falsely imprisoned in a car.

Murphy has insisted that the incident was peaceful.

But he clearly sees no problem breaking the law if he needs to, as his comments in Templeogue would seem to indicate.

This carry on can only serve to anger law-abiding water protesters. Your words speak for themselves, Mr Murphy. You are no democrat!

Sile shows good can come out of cancer

CANCER is a horrible, horrible disease. Sadly it affects so many families and can cause so much pain and turmoil.

That's why I rejoice when I hear of someone turning their diagnosis into something positive. So it is with Sile Seoige.

She was struck down with thyroid cancer three years ago.

The 35-year-old battled the disease, undergoing treatment, and thankfully has now made a full recovery. But she made even more of it.

In an interview this week shesaid: "I have never been as happy as I am right now and everything is in perspective... If I had a chance to swap with the me I was before I felt sick, I never would."

It's hard not to be struck by this positive attitude. In fact, I'm hugely impressed by Sile's candour and courage in speaking so openly and honestly about what is still a taboo subject for many.

Having overcome the disease, Sile's spoken of her contentment and happiness.

This positive attitude offers hope and encouragement to cancer suffers everywhere.

Hero: Andy Lee

Andy Lee has become Ireland's first middleweight world champion since 1934 - after a sensational victory in Las Vegas last weekend. It is truly a remarkable achievement for the Limerickman and proves that when it comes to the ring, Ireland is continuing to produce world beaters. We all toast and rejoice in his great victory. 

Zero: Sinead O'Connor

Sinead O'Connor has said she was abused by a member of Sinn Fein as a child. Now the singer has announced to the world that she has joined the party. She hopes that the Shinners will deliver equality, rights and justice for all the children of the nation. Of course, anyone is free to join any party they wish but, frankly, this is bizarre beyond belief.