‘Grace’ case erodes confidence in HSE – Cahill

02 February 2016

Leader, I am calling for a debate on the following issue, which concerns allegations of abuse within a foster home and what the HSE knew.

I want to firstly put on record that my heart goes out to the woman at the centre of this, who has become known as Grace, and her family. She has suffered horrendously. The fault of that lies with her abuser, but also with the HSE, for its woeful failings and dereliction of duty in relation to the protection of her, and potentially others.

I also want to commend the whistle blowers for giving Grace a voice, that due to the nature of her disability, she was unable to use for herself. I have spent the last year and a half urging those who have been abused to break their silence to obtain help and stop the cycle of abuse. The most disturbing fact of this case was that this woman was physically unable to use hers. The HSE had a duty to protect her – and it failed her miserably.

You would think that after everything we know in relation to abuse by powerful institutions in this country – after everything we know about the systemic and horrific abuse of children – that somewhere, some lessons would have been learned. It really is incredible that they have not.

And I want to deal with the wrong information given to the PAC in relation to an apology not given to Grace. At best there was a misunderstanding in front of the PAC – at worst, this was wilful misleading of the committee – and it stinks to me of cover up.

It is clear that no one has been made accountable in this case. I can’t see any instance of staff disciplinary – but I can certainly see an erosion of confidence in the HSE as a result.

I understand the current director was not in place while this was all happening – but he was appointed in 2012, the same year the Devine report, completed its work.

Let me be very clear on this. Heads should roll over this disturbing and complete failure of the HSE to protect vulnerable people from abuse. And, if the Director cannot hold his staff accountable and dismiss those who contributed to this failure – then he should resign.

I welcome a Commission of Investigation into this – and I hope it leaves no stone unturned so that not only lessons will be learned – but also that action will be taken.

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