HSE staff who failed Grace are on full pensions

The three people who were “directly responsible” for leaving ‘Grace’ in a foster home in 1996 have retired and are in receipt of full HSE pensions despite their failure to protect her, it has emerged.

HSE boss Tony O'Brien has confirmed 11 people connected to Grace case are still employed by HSE or Tusla. Picture: Niall Carson/PA

Fresh correspondence from Tony O’Brien, director general of the HSE, to the chairman of the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee, Sean Fleming, reveals how the three people were part of a wider five-person panel who ultimately decided to overturn an earlier decision to remove Grace from the nursing home.

Mr O’Brien was called on to correct the record after he was accused of misleading the PAC in a previous hearing in relation to Grace’s care.

The home is at the heart of a newly established commission of investigation into allegations of extreme sexual abuse and neglect of up to 47 intellectually disabled children and young adults.

According to the documents, seen by the Irish Examiner, the three people had “an important dual role” in that they participated in the decision to leave Grace in the home and they had a duty to carry out eight actions in order to make the environment safe for Grace.

But Mr O’Brien admits those actions never happened and Grace was left in the home. “These key actions were not followed up by some of the three individuals who were tasked with making Grace’s environment safe,” Mr O’Brien wrote in his letter. “In effect, this meant that the young woman was not made a ward of court nor was her care appropriately followed up.

“It was the three individuals who had this important dual function,” Mr O’Brien said adding that “the HSE payroll system indicates that all three are in receipt of full HSE pensions”.

Mr O’Brien’s move to clarify his comments came after it emerged that there are at least 11 people who were connected with Grace’s case still working either in the HSE or Tusla, the State Child Protection Agency.

In his letter, Mr O’Brien claims any statements given to the PAC were given with the “utmost of good faith”.

He added that evidence he gave in 2015 and 2016 to the committee on this matter was restricted for “reasons outside my control”.

He said that in a bid not to interfere with ongoing Garda investigations, “phrases chosen by me during questioning would not necessarily have been ones that I would have chosen had I complete freedom to discuss the information”.

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