Report into sexual abuse at disability centre should be published ‘without delay’ – Tánaiste

TD highlights ‘catastrophic failures’ by HSE, Hiqa and Garda over Co Donegal unit

Report identifies 108 occurrences of sexually inappropriate behaviours by one resident towards 18 other residents ‘with the knowledge of some staff and management’ at Ard Gréine Court, Co Donegal. Photograph: Joe Dunne

A report into sexual abuse at a disability centre run by the Health Service Executive (HSE) in Co Donegal should be published as soon as possible "and without further delay", Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said.

He was responding in the Dáil to Independent TD Thomas Pringle who called for an end to the delays in publishing the Brandon report into the abuse at Ard Gréine Court in Ballybofey.

Mr Pringle highlighted the “catastrophic failures by the HSE to deal with the issues, by Hiqa [Health Information and Quality Authority] to highlight them and by the Garda to deal with complaints” and said this had left families “with half-truths and without the full story of what happened to their loved ones”.

The Tánaiste said he was “shocked and appalled that anything like this could happen anywhere, at any point in time, under any model of care, and for so long”.


The report identified 108 occurrences of sexually inappropriate behaviours by one resident, referred to by the pseudonym “Brandon”, towards 18 other residents of the facility over an eight-year period between 2003 and 2011.

Mr Varadkar said: “The report notes that these incidents occurred with the knowledge of some staff and management of the facility at that time.

“It was eventually brought to light by the actions of an individual who approached a public representative in October 2016, who, in turn, brought it to the attention of the general manager of the county’s disability services.”

Delayed publication

Mr Pringle said the HSE “has constantly moved to delay the publishing of the report”.

"First, it was to preserve the identity of people," he said. "We were treated to the news of a Garda investigation" on the day Minister of State for Disability Anne Rabbitte met families in Donegal to explain what was happening.

“Now we hear there are no charges in regard to the investigation but, apparently, the HSE is still delaying the report, saying it does not reflect what it did.

“If it wants to put on record what was done, why not publish its own report?”

Mr Varadkar said the HSE has assured Ms Rabbitte that there is no ongoing risk and that the national governance and accountability structures to oversee the implementation of the recommendations arising from the report are in place.

But Mr Pringle, Donegal TD, who has repeatedly raised the case, asked, “How can we be certain that the HSE is implementing changes that could prevent this happening somewhere else?”

He said he had no faith in the HSE to deal with the issue, adding: “If I had not raised this with the previous minister of state with responsibility for disabilities at the time, this would have been buried already within the HSE.”

The Irish Times on Tuesday reported that Hiqa confirmed it was provided with the names of victims of sexual abuse at the centre in 2016, more than two years before families were told of the abuse.

Mr Pringle said Hiqa did not identify sexual abuse in its reports in 2016 on the centre “even though it saw it on the files”.

He urged Mr Varadkar and the Government to push for publication of the report.

Mr Varadkar said Ms Rabbitte would engage with the HSE “in the days and weeks ahead”. He said the Minister had also written to the Garda Commissioner about the publication of the report. “The Government and I support her in this regard and believe that it should be published as soon as possible and without further delay.”

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times