By Daniel McConnell
Documents and information relating to the care of 'Grace' have been requested of 51 public bodies and individuals by the Commission into her savage sexual abuse in a foster home.
The State Commisssion of Investigation into the scandal has just handed over its first interim report to Government.
It has been confirmed that Marjorie Farrelly SC, the sole member of the Commission travelled to the South-East in September and personally met with 'Grace'.
“The Commission was of the view that it was important to meet Grace. In September 2017, arrangements were made for the sole member and a legal team member to travel to the South-East to meet with Grace at her residence,” the report states.
“The puropose of the visit was to meet the person behind the voluminous documentation and reports received by the Commission pertaining to her care and protection over an extended period,” it states.
“The meeting was successful and provided an opportunity to see Grace's current residence and the care being provided to her,” Ms Farrelly states.
Grace, a non-verbal intellectually disabled woman, was left to languish in a foster home for 20 years until 2009 despite being the subject of physical and sexual abuse at the hands of the foster family.
Several opportunities to remove her from the home following concerns being raised were either overruled or not taken.
In her report, Ms Farrelly says the Commission has so far received an “enormous volume of documentation” on foot of its requests for information.
“The Commission has received approximately 270,000 pages of documentation between June 13 2017 and November 14, 2017, with approximately 10,000 pages received in the last week,” the report states.
She remarked that she and members of her team had to use encryption keys in order to read earlier redacted reports into the scandal, but said “in most cases there were no decoded versions of the reports available and it was necessary for the Commission to read each report using an encryption key.”
“This was a time-consuming but necessary process for the Commission at the commencement of its work,” the report states.
Earlier this year, the HSE was heavily criticised by junior health minister Finian McGrath for its role in the Grace case, and for delaying the setting up of a commission of inquiry into the abuse scandal.
Mr McGrath said he “cried many nights” because of what happened to Grace and the other 46 disabled children and young adults who went through the foster home at the heart of the scandal.
But Mr McGrath said, in an interview with the Irish Examiner, that he was “surprised” at the reluctance within the senior levels of the HSE to co-operate with steps to establish the inquiry earlier this year.
Grace was a young intellectually disabled girl who was allowed languish in a foster home for two decades despite long standing concerns about horrific sexual abuse at the home.
“I was very annoyed and extremely frustrated for a number of months, I was very upset because my focus was on the person with the disability. I was really annoyed and eventually when we got it over the line, but yes, I was surprised at the reluctance,” he said.