One of the principal witnesses in the commission of Investigation into the “Grace” case is claiming he suffering extreme hardship as a result of his engagement with the inquiry.
The witness has contacted members of the Oireachtas grouping Independents 4 Change to lay out concerns that his engagement with the inquiry meant that for over a year, he was unable to take up paid employment because of the demands on his time.
The commission, chaired by barrister Marjorie Farrelly, is examining the handling of the case of Grace, an intellectually disabled woman who was in foster care for 20 years despite repeated concerns about her welfare.
In 2017, Grace was awarded €6.3m by the High Court for the failures of the State to properly care for her. The Farrelly commission was set up in May 2017 and it was estimated that its work would be completed within a year. The commission is now scheduled to deliver its final report in May 2020.
The commission has delivered five interim reports, the last of which was last May and included reasons of continuing investigations as to why the inquiry was taking so long.
The witness who has contacted the Oireachtas members says he was unable to work between May 2018 and June 2019 because of the extent of his engagement with the commission. He is now in employment outside the country and, unlike State employees, is forced to engage in commission-related business in his own time.
Among his other complaints are that:
In a statement to the Independents 5 Change group, the man said he “now finds himself in a dire financial situation some 18 months since he first started assisting the Farrelly Commission with its work” and has “found it difficult to support himself or his family.”
The witness also claims to have received demands for payments from creditors “including a sheriff’s demand in recent months”.
The statement to the Oireachtas group concludes: “He has had to choose between no income at all in Ireland while assisting the Farrelly Commission or supporting his family by seeking work abroad.”