A foster home in which dozens of vulnerable children and young adults were placed over 30 years is to be the center of a commission of investigation into sexual abuse.
A whistle-blower has told Health Minister Leo Varadkar that the foster home in Ireland’s southeast was never properly assessed by the Health Service Executive (HSE) while young people with intellectual disabilities were placed in it between 1983 and 2013.
The whistle-blower’s memory of how one victim was treated – called Grace by the Irish media – is a disturbing report.
He said she was twice brought to the hospital with breast and thigh bruising before she was returned to the foster home which she first entered as an 11-year-old in 1983.
The whistle-blower, a HSE worker at the time who has since left the organization, reported that he could not persuade bosses to take legal steps to end the girl’s placement in the home.
Eventually, when the HSE ignored warnings that it could be prosecuted if the girl remained in the foster home, her birth mother was contacted. When she heard of the injuries to Grace she traveled to the area to insist the HSE remove her daughter from the foster home.
Three inquiries have been held into the alleged abuse at the home, and a separate Garda (Irish police) inquiry is ongoing.
Now ministers have decided the next government will hold a commission of inquiry into what happened at the home.
Meanwhile, at least one government minister has led calls for resignations in the HSE of those who mishandled allegations of abuse of the children.
Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said that those who failed to adequately protect the most vulnerable children should be offering their resignations.
Another, Junior Health Minister Kathleen Lynch, admitted that many of the managers who were in place when allegations surfaced remain in their posts and no sanction has been handed out, despite the clear failings in care.
She also admitted on Monday night that she has not yet seen the contents of two HSE-sponsored reports into the allegations of abuse, despite the fact they were completed in 2012 and 2015.
She insisted the HSE was precluded from sharing the reports with her because of ongoing Garda investigations.
The HSE confirmed that people remained in the foster care home, even after a woman was removed.
HSE Director General Tony O’Brien admitted his organization was meant to deliver an apology to Grace over the failings in her care last week but it did not happen because of “a breakdown in communication.”