Alleged abuse in special needs homes must be investigated

Call for complaints procedure after abuse filmed at Áras Attracta home in Mayo

Sheila Ryan, sister of Mary Garvan, who lives in Áras Attracta residential home in Swinford, Co Mayo

Sheila Ryan, sister of Mary Garvan, who lives in Áras Attracta residential home in Swinford, Co Mayo


Organisations representing people with intellectual disabilities have called on the Government to appoint a confidential recipient to deal with abuse allegations in residential disability centres.

It comes after the Special Needs Parents Association said it received allegations of neglect and abuse in three residential centres in recent days.

The complaints were made after a programme by the RTÉ Investigations Unit aired on Tuesday, showing footage of residents of Áras Attracta in Swinford, Co Mayo being force fed, slapped, pushed into chairs and to the ground.

The organisation’s chairwoman Lorraine Dempsey said it was working to establish further details on the allegations which were made after the programme aired.

It called on the Government to “urgently clarify” the appropriate avenue for reporting such information.

In a joint statement the Special Needs Parents Association, Inclusion Ireland and Down Syndrome Ireland called for the appointment of a confidential recipient to deal with allegations of abuse in care homes for people with disabilities.

Paddy Connolly of Inclusion Ireland said there was “no clear mechanism for whistleblowers or family members to bring a complaint”.

Investigated independently

Peter Tyndall

The Ombudsman has previously called for a “one stop shop” to deal with complaints made against the public sector to make it easier for the public to bring complaints.

A spokesman for Hiqa, which began inspecting residential disability centres in November last year and also receives information and complaints about residential disability centres, said all information it receives is acted on.

“Every piece of information that we receive regardless of its origin, is very carefully analysed and acted on and the action that we take will depend on the seriousness of the information received,” he said.

Separately, the family of one of the women featured in Tuesday’s Prime Time programme has called for due process for the 11 people taken off duty as a result of footage collected.

Mary Garvan’s family said “everyone is innocent until they are proven guilty” adding that its “thoughts and prayers” were with them.