€220,000 spent on abuse investigation

Over €220,000 has been spent by the Health Service Executive (HSE) to date on investigations into one of its care facilities in Mayo at the centre of allegations of abuse towards vulnerable residents.

€220,000 spent on abuse investigation

Figures provided to the Dáil Public Accounts Committee shows payments totalling €220,297 have been incurred over HSE-commissioned inquiries into conditions at the Áras Attracta in Swinford, Co Mayo. The figures exclude travel, subsistence and other expenses paid to members of inquiry teams.

The care home for people with intellectual disability was at the centre of major controversy last year after a documentary by the RTÉ Investigations Unit recorded residents being slapped, kicked, shouted at, and force- fed. A total of 17 staff at the HSE-run facility in Swinford are under investigation, with all but four suspended without pay.

The HSE also notified gardaí and the Health Information and Quality Authority of any allegations.

The subsequent Garda investigation has resulted in six staff members facing criminal prosecution on assault charges. The cases are currently before the courts.

The HSE-commissioned inquiry is being chaired by Christy Lynch, chief executive of Kare, an organisation working with people with intellectual disabilities.

The HSE inquiry was suspended to allow the Garda investigation to proceed unencumbered but recommenced its work in March.

Since September, it has been interviewing staff and other witnesses . The team team is aiming to complete work by December.

Mr Lynch and another member of the inquiry team, Grainne Burke, are not claiming consultancy fees. However, another member, Michael Brophy, a retired investigator from the Office of the Ombudsman, has been paid €16,280 at a rate of €120 per hour for time worked.

The final member of the inquiry team, Adrian Tennant, a human resource specialist, has been paid €17,873 to date at a daily rate of €850.

Mr Lynch and other members of the inquiry team have reviewed more than 290 hours of video. A separate assurance review commissioned by the HSE’s national director of social care of all units at Áras Attracta under the chairmanship of Kevin McCoy has cost €186,144 to date.

It is also scheduled to complete its work by the end of the year.

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