The two parties in pole position to form the next government have re-committed to establishing a state investigation into graphic abuse of a woman with severe intellectual disabilities after two months of inaction on the issue.
Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil both confirmed they will set up the investigation if they gain power, after the inquiry was promised days before the election began.
After a year of reports by the Irish Examiner, the outgoing Fine Gael-Labour government agreed days before the general election was called in early February to set up a state commission of inquiry into alleged abuse at a foster home in Waterford.
The alleged abuse related to a woman who is mute and has severe intellectual disabilities, given the pseudonym ‘Grace’, who had been placed in the home from 1989 until 2009.
Concerns had been raised about the family, who also housed 46 other vulnerable children and adults, as early as 1992, with a review in 1995 leading to all placements being cancelled due to fears about the safety of those involved.
However, for still unknown reasons, ‘Grace’ was left at the home for another 14 years — allegedly suffering sexual, physical, and mental abuse which has left her with life-limiting internal organ injuries.
In response to revelations in late January that a second woman, ‘Ann’, was also left at the home “based on legal advice” until 2013 and ongoing claims of a cover-up by certain health officials, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said in early February he would set up a state commission of inquiry into the scandal.
The matter was strongly supported by Labour — in particular then minister of state for people with disabilities Kathleen Lynch — which said an investigation is needed to uncover exactly what happened, and was supported by all parties in the Dáil.
Speaking to the Irish Examiner last night, spokespeople for both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil confirmed the parties most likely to form a part or all of the next government remain committed to setting up an inquiry into the case.
A Fine Gael spokesperson said while the exact timing of the inquiry — which has not been implemented two months after it was announced — still depends on when the next government is formed, Mr Kenny’s party is in favour of the inquiry.
A Fianna Fáil spokesperson said Micheál Martin’s party believes an inquiry is needed to uncover exactly what happened and answer ongoing questions .
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