07 March 2017

Conor Dignam SC recommended, under the heading ‘Care and Decision Making in respect of Others’, that the commission should investigate a range of matters broader than the Grace case.

These include: all claims made in the protected disclosures that gave rise to the inquiry; the care received by all persons placed in this foster home, including whether they suffered abuse and whether the HSE knew; and the use of this placement by another, unnamed person.

But the Government’s proposed terms of reference seek to shut some of this off, or at least to postpone decisions about it to a later date.

Grace was the longest resident in that home – 20 years or so. But she was probably also the resident least able to complain. She is still not in any position to give an account.

Meanwhile, there are 47 other directly contemporaneous witnesses. It simply makes no sense to postpone consideration of their cases. They are eye witnesses to all that happened. How can their evidence and direct experiences be segmented out. Postponed to another time and another inquiry.
Equally, we cannot postpone a detailed consideration of the contents of the protected disclosures in this case. Whistleblowers were simply cast aside, and now deserve to be heard in full.

More importantly, we need to know the full truth about any claims made about the fate of vulnerable children at risk while in State care.

The published terms of reference do not cover the recommendations of Conor Dignam, who believed these issues need to be investigated. The terms must be amended before this matter is voted upon on Thursday.


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