‘Grace’ inquiry plan delayed

Plans to set up a state inquiry into alleged sexual abuse at a HSE-supported foster home have been delayed yet again, after the author of an independent report asked for more time to finish his work.

The Irish Examiner understands initial plans for ministers to sign off on the terms of reference for a formal investigation into the Grace case this week have been put on hold because further work is needed on the file.

As previously reported, Disabilities Minister Finian McGrath was due to bring a memo to cabinet tomorrow setting out terms of reference recommended by senior counsel Conor Dignam.

However, while the document had been intended to be given to the Independent Alliance TD last weekend, an additional extension until August 2 was sought by Mr Dignam.

As such, the one-week delay means the report will not now be available before the Cabinet’s final meeting before the summer break, resulting in official confirmation of an inquiry being put on hold until September.

It is believed that while Mr Dignam has concluded the vast majority of his work, he is required to resolve minor legal issues involving people interviewed for the document before handing the file to Mr McGrath.

Mr McGrath is still expected to raise the matter at the Cabinet tomorrow, with a memo due to be heard that the issue must be seen as a “priority” in September.

However, the extension of as to when Mr Dignam’s report will be provided has caused frustration among some individuals involved in the inquiry, as it is the third time the document has been delayed since an initial plan to set up a state investigation was agreed on February 2.

Speaking to the Irish Examiner on Sunday, Mr McGrath said regardless of any delays “it is my firm intention to have it [a commission of inquiry] set up by the autumn”.


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