Family of Áras Attracta patient calls for due process

Eleven people taken off duty should be considered ‘innocent until they are proven guilty’

The Áras Attracta facility in Co Mayo.

The Áras Attracta facility in Co Mayo.

 

The family of one of the women featured in Tuesday’s Prime Time programme on Áras Attracta, a disability centre in Co Mayo, has called for due process to apply to the 11 people taken off duty as a result of footage taken by RTE.

The family of 65-year-old Mary Garvin said in a statement released today that “everyone is innocent until they are proven guilty” and said its “ thoughts and prayers” were with those individuals taken off duty.

“They have families and relatives too, and we know they are all suffering. We want them treated humanely and with respect and the Garvin family believe in forgiveness as a way forward,” the statement said.

The HSE has said that 11 people are “no longer on duty”, but are being paid, as a result of the footage recorded in the centre for adults with intellectual disabilities within the past month and a half. Nine are Health Service Executive staff who have worked at Áras Attracta for a minimum of eight years while two others are agency care assistants.

The statement, made in the names of Sheila Ryan, Kathleen Healy, John Paul and Patrick Garvin, was aired on Today with Sean O’Rourke this morning.

“We want due process. We want the inquiries that have been instigated to proceed. This includes a Garda investigation,” the statement read.

It said the individuals removed from duty should have the opportunity to tell their side of the story and explain their actions.

“They must be given time and space to do that,” it continued.

The family went on to thank “sincerely the many carers, nurses and other professionals” who have in the past and continue to “work quietly, caringly and professionally in Áras Attracta”.

“They deserve our support, encouragement, appreciation and thanks. We want them to know that they are doing a good job in a very challenging profession.

“Under no circumstances, do we want mob rule. We abhor violence in every shape or form,” the statement said in an apparent reference to reports that death threats had been received by some individuals taken off duty in recent days.

The Prime Time programme by the RTE Investigations Unit which aired on Tuesday focused on the treatment of three women - including Ms Garvin - who are residents of Áras Attracta in Swinford in Co Mayo. The programme included footage of a staff member pinning down and force-feeding another resident, as well as instances of staff members slapping and kicking residents and pushing them into chairs and to the ground.