Grace files: We have reports but we need accountability, fast

A report published today opens the lid on the shocking abuse and neglect of a child and young adult left languishing in a foster care home, writes Political Editor Daniel McConnell

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan said she had no issue in the Conal Devine and Resilience Ireland reports being published.

FINALLY, finally, we have revealed the true and horrific scale of the sexual abuse and neglect which was allowed to befall an intellectually disabled child.

Put up for adoption, only to fall into the foster care system because of her disability, she was left exposed to the most savage, disgusting, vile abuse for 20 years.

Despite allegations about the foster family back in the 1990s, ‘Grace’ was left languish in the home until 2009 when she was still suffering abuse.

Another girl, known as Ann, was allowed remain in the home until 2013, despite the authorities knowing about all of the allegations for years.

It is disgraceful.

Today’s publication of the 2012 Conal Devine report is not easy reading.

From the specifics of the continual bruising and trauma suffered by Grace and others at the hands of her abusers to the calamitous and unforgivable failures of health officials to protect her at her most vulnerable simply beggars belief.

The Devine report, all 148 pages of it, obtained by the Irish Examiner, will finally be published today after repeated refusals by the HSE to do so.

They said they could not because the gardaí told them they couldn’t publish it and a second 2015 report into the scandal conducted by Resilience Ireland.

That line got blown out of the water last month when we reported on correspondence between TD John Deasy and Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan who said she had no issue in the reports being published.

But the Devine report, shows most importantly, just how badly the State, and people charged to act on its behalf, messed up and how Grace who is now almost 40, was left to pay an unimaginable price.

But just what are we dealing with here.

  • Sexual abuse: Grace would leave her foster home and at times would begin stripping off her clothes either without prompting or on the utterance of a particular phrase.
  • Physical abuse: Time and time again, Grace showed up with bruises, red marks on her back, black eyes, carpet burns and many others.
  • Financial abuse: It is alleged and included in the Devine report that the foster mother who “looked after” Grace defrauded her of her monies over a time.
  • Neglect: The report details how Grace went years without seeing a GP, she suffered poor dental care and her general appearance was in poor state.

But her neglect was not just at the hands of her abusers. For years the state personnel who were supposed to look after her simply forgot her. She vanished from their radar.

Even worse, in more recent times, Grace became lost in bureaucratic and legal disputes between different officers of the State who argued about what was best for her, all the while leaving her exposed to danger in the foster home.

Devine found that there was no clear record of decisions taken in relation to Grace.

He found that no one did anything about the concerns voiced by Grace’s carers in the day centre.

The Devine report concludes there were failures in the duty of care shown to her. That is a gross understatement.

She, and, as we know from the Resiliance Ireland report, others who were abused at this foster home were abandoned and forgotten by the very State charged with protecting their wellbeing.

We already have had apologies from the HSE, even though they were mangled by officials last year.

But what we have not had yet is accountability or justice.

Who were the individuals who made the decision to leave her in the foster home despite the original decision to remove her?

Who are the ones who tried to cover this entire saga up, as has been claimed by the whistleblowers involved in this case.

Answers are needed in this case and fast.

 


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