New terms of reference for ‘Grace’ inquiry to be drawn up after criticism

Limited scope of initial terms strongly criticised by opposition and whistleblowers

TDs John Deasy and John McGuinness criticise Minister of State Finian McGrath and the terms of reference into a commission of investigation into the ‘Grace’ case: Video: Oireachtas

 

Minister of State Finian McGrath has withdrawn the terms of reference into a commission of investigation into the case of ‘Grace’ after complaints the scope was too narrow.

Mr McGrath was strongly criticised by the opposition and the two whistleblowers at the centre of the case.

They have argued that the other 47 children who were resident at the foster family which housed “Grace” should be included in the inquiry, and that the allegations of a cover-up by the health services should also be investigated.

Mr McGrath said he would consult with the opposition TDs and would bring revised terms before Cabinet.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny confirmed the terms would be revised in a statement to the Dáil.

He said there would be further consultation with members of the House and amended terms would be set out very explicitly and clearly for everybody.

“What we want here is phase one and phase two to take into account others who were in that foster home and other issues raised here,’’ he said.

He said Mr McGrath had withdrawn the motion placed before the Dáil on Tuesday setting up the inquiry. A revised motion would be put to the House on Thursday, he said.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin welcomed the Government’s willingness to engage with the Dáil on the issue.

The key issue was the inclusion of others in the inquiry and it was stretching credibility say it was just one person who was badly abused, he said.

Others allegedly abused had come forward, he added.

Grace was diagnosed with severe intellectual disability and microcephaly.

She was placed on a number of short-term placements in different parts of Ireland before being placed full time with a foster family in the south-east in 1989, when she was 10 years old.

She was to remain with this family - the father died in 2001 - for 20 years until July 2009, when she was removed from the foster home by the HSE.

This is in spite of allegations of physical, sexual and financial abuse.

In a statement earlier, the two whistleblowers criticised the commission of investigation as being too narrow.

They said they had been omitted from the scope of the inquiry despite raising the initial concerns.

The whistleblowers said the commission must investigate allegations of a cover-up by the Health Service Executive from 1996 to 2016.