Austin Currie drawn into case of girl at ‘foster’ home

Intellectually disabled young adult left at house 13 years after sex abuse concerns raised

Austin Currie: “My memory is pretty good, but this was 20 years ago. I have no recollection of that case.” Photograph: David Sleator

Austin Currie: “My memory is pretty good, but this was 20 years ago. I have no recollection of that case.” Photograph: David Sleator

 

Former minister for children Austin Currie says he passed representations from a “foster” family in the southeast to department officials.

Two representations were made to the Department of Health in late 1996 on behalf of a family appealing a decision by the then South Eastern Health Board to remove a young adult with intellectual disabilities from their care.

One representation was from the family and another on their behalf by a public servant familiar with the family.

A decision was made in September 1996 to remove the young woman known as Grace (then 18) amid concerns about serious sex abuse at the home. Grace had been with the family since 1989.

The original decision to remove Grace was countermanded at a meeting of three health board officials in October 1996 and Grace was left in the home until 2009.

The reason she was left in the home, despite serious concerns, is unknown. No minutes remain of the October 1996 meeting. It is understood at least one of the three people at that meeting has since died.

Social worker

Michael Noonan, health minister at the time, has said any representations made to the department were passed on to Mr Currie as the appropriate minister.

Mr Currie, junior minister in the Department of Health from December 1994 to June 1997, said: “My memory is pretty good, but this was 20 years ago. I have no recollection of that case. If a representation was made I would have passed that on to the appropriate officials in the department.”

Alleged abuse

Fine Gael

Mr O’Halloran also disputed reports he had tried to discuss abuse allegations at the “foster” home with Mr Noonan at the 1997 Ard Fheis. “I have no knowledge of that foster home abuse case,” he said.

But he said Mr Noonan had “sprinted” away from him at the Ard Fheis. He had brought a family, whose daughter had been abused in the 1980s by Fr Jim Grennan, parish priest in Monageer in Ferns, to Dublin to meet Mr Noonan.

Mr Currie said he met the family with Mr O’Halloran late on the Saturday at the Ard Fheis. “I said I would inquire into their allegations when I got back to the department on Monday. The next thing I heard in the press I had promised an inquiry. I had not. I know I brought that family’s concerns to the officials in the department.”

The family’s allegations about Fr Grennan were confirmed in the 2005 Ferns report.