‘Foster home’ abuse investigation may be expanded

Government is to consider extending commission in ‘Grace’ case to other allegations

Minister of State for Health Finian McGrath is to bring a memo to Cabinet this morning outlining the progress made in establishing a statutory inquiry into the allegations surrounding the so-called ‘Grace’ case.

Minister of State for Health Finian McGrath is to bring a memo to Cabinet this morning outlining the progress made in establishing a statutory inquiry into the allegations surrounding the so-called ‘Grace’ case.

 

The Government is to consider expanding a commission of investigation examining abuse allegations at a “foster home” in the southeast to similar cases.

Minister of State for Health Finian McGrath will bring a memo to Cabinet this morning outlining the progress made in establishing a statutory inquiry into the allegations surrounding the so-called Grace case.

Mr McGrath will confirm he has granted senior counsel Conor Dignam an extension of time to complete his work.

Mr Dignam was tasked with outlining potential terms of reference for the commission examining allegations of abuse.

He was due to report to the Department of Health on July 22nd, but it has since been extended until August 2nd, it is understood.

“Grace”, who had severe intellectual disabilities and was non-verbal, was subjected to torture, sexual abuse and physical neglect at a foster home.

Foster children

The victim had been placed in the home in 1989, and remained there until 2009 despite the fact that other foster children had been removed by 1996.

A number of other allegations of abuse in foster homes have been made in recent weeks, including a case of a woman known as Mary, who was left in a home for 18 months after abuse allegations were raised.

The Cabinet will also today be asked to amend the terms of reference of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes to provide more time to gather evidence on the experiences of women who lived in the homes.

The commission was due to report by August 17th on confidential discussions with people who lived in the homes as well as on the social history of the 1922-1998 period.

Controversy

The commission was set up in January 2015 following controversy over the circumstances in which the bodies of hundreds of babies were discovered in the grounds of an institution in Tuam, Co Galway.

The final report of the commission in to all aspects of the treatment of women and children in the homes, including the exercise of its responsibilities by State authorities, is due to be submitted by January 2018.

It is understood that the commission has asked Minister for Children Katherine Zappone to extend the reporting period on the confidential hearings and social history modules to coincide with its overall conclusions in 2018.

Ministers are expected to accede to the request from the commission, and its full report will then be scheduled for submission to the Government in January of 2018.

The three-member commission is composed of Judge Yvonne Murphy, historian Prof Mary Daly and legal expert Dr William Duncan.