Senators commend whistleblowers in foster home abuse case

HSE explanation to Public Accounts Committee ‘stinks of cover-up’ - Máiría Cahill

Labour Seanad leader Ivana Bacik has  commended a social worker who “blew the whistle on the appalling extent of the abuse and the numbers of children who may have been affected”  in a foster home in the southeast. File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Labour Seanad leader Ivana Bacik has commended a social worker who “blew the whistle on the appalling extent of the abuse and the numbers of children who may have been affected” in a foster home in the southeast. File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

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Evidence of reckless endangerment may surface in the case of abuse in a foster home in the southeast, Labour Seanad leader Ivana Bacik has told the Seanad.

Expressing grave concern about the case in which 47 children and young adults with intellectual disabilities were placed in the home between 1983 and 2013, Ms Bacik commended the social worker who “blew the whistle on the appalling extent of the abuse and the numbers of children who may have been affected”.

Ms Bacik, a constitutional lawyer, noted that reports were compiled but had not yet been published and Garda investigations were ongoing.

“There may well be evidence that points towards an offence of reckless endangerment, something about which we need to be mindful in any debates on this issue,” she said.

Whistleblowers praised

Labour Senator Máiría Cahill also praised the whistleblowers. She said information given to the Public Accounts Committee about an apology to the woman identified as Grace “stinks to me of cover-up”.

Ms Cahill said she had spent the past 18 months urging people to speak about their abuse so they could get help, but also to break the cycle of abuse.

She said the most disturbing fact in the case was that Grace, who had been left as a child in the home for 12 years after a decision was made not to refer new cases there, was physically unable to speak about her abuse.

“The HSE had a duty to protect her and it failed her miserably,” she said.

The lessons about abuse by powerful institutions, the systemic and horrific abuse of children “appear not to have been learned. That is appalling and disgraceful.”

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