Grace files: 'What is the difference between this and a cover-up?'

Grace files: 'What is the difference between this and a cover-up?'
Dr Cathal Morgan.

Information about communications between the Gardaí and the HSE has been released to RTÉ under the Freedom of Information Act.

Colm O'Mongain interviewed Head of Disability Operations and Social Care Dr Cathal Morgan on RTÉ Radio1 about how the Gardaí had no issue with the publication of the reports, the "reluctance" of the HSE to appear in court, and their unwillingness to share information regarding Grace.

When quizzed about records in regards to decisions that were made over Grace Dr Cathal Morgan agreed that it was lacking.

"I think the lack of documentation around decision making is very difficult to understand," he said. "It's very difficult to understand why those decisions was made."

O'Mongain also asked him if there was a legal barrier to Grace's records being shared when it came to planning her medical care. "When it came to needing records to plan her medical care there was still a reluctance to share those records," O'Mongain said.

Morgan agreed there was a reluctance but could not provide a reason why. "There was no legal barrier for it not be shared," he said. The HSE were also "reluctant" to go to court over Grace, which O'Mongain suggested was to conceal information.

O'Mongain then asked: "What is the material difference between this (the reluctance to share information) and a cover-up?" "I don't have an answer to that Colm," said Morgan, reminding O'Mongain that he is still relatively new to his position.

O'Mongain pressed on the subject of people who may have been responsible for decisions about Grace staying in the home. Morgan told him that to the best of his knowledge the people referenced to as H7, H3, and H12 in the report would have been "responsible for implementing the action of having her removed". However, he said that the "three person panel" were no longer in public service.

O'Mongain challenged him on the detail of a "three person panel", he said a panel was not referred to in the reports and that the subjects were never referred to as a group in the reports. Morgan couldn't confirm this and repeated that he was answering to the best of his knowledge.

On interactions with Gardaí, O'Mongain pointed out that when Conal Devine was carrying out his report they had no objections, when there are claims that "they were very reluctant to see any other work going on when they were carrying out their own investigations".

O'Mongain asked if the HSE had asked the Gardaí specifically when RTE were told last year by the HSE that Gardaí had objected to the publication of the reports.

Morgan said he would have to check, that he didn't have that information but that "we were taking our lead from the prosecuting gardaí."

"My understanding is that the HSE, the legal team at the HSE and the prosecuting gardaí were in constant contact," he said.

On the handling of information that may be yet to emerge, Morgan said: "If there is information there this really needs to be taken up in the context of statutory investigation."

The HSE released two reports earlier this week, the Inquiry into Protected Disclosures, SU1 report by Conal Devine & Associates and the Disability Foster Care Report, HSE South East (Resilience Ireland) reports, relating to the so-called 'Grace' case at a foster home in the South East.

The reports are in relation to a woman with serious intellectual disabilities, who was abused at a foster home for 20 years.

They outline not only serious shortcomings in supervising Grace’s foster care, but also how Grace was left in the home despite repeated decisions to move her.

Grace was admitted to the home in the south-east of the country when she was 11 years old, in 1989. She left in 2009.

Connect is available to provide free telephone-based counselling to anyone impacted by the Foster Care reports. Connect provides professional telephone based counselling and support to survivors at Freephone 1800 477 477 in the Republic of Ireland and 00800 477 477 77 in Northern Ireland. Opening hours are Wednesday to Sunday 6-10pm. Further information at www.connectcounselling.ie. Connect is funded by the HSE.

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