HSE admits it did not apologise to alleged sexual abuse victim

HSE accused of lying to PAC over case involving woman with intellectual disability

The HSE has admitted it did not apologise to the alleged victim of serious sexual abuse at a HSE-registered foster care home in the southeast.

The HSE has admitted it did not apologise to the alleged victim of serious sexual abuse at a HSE-registered foster care home in the southeast.

 

The HSE has admitted it did not apologise to the alleged victim of serious sexual abuse at a HSE-registered foster care home in the southeast.

The HSE has been accused of lying to the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) about having apologised to the young woman, who has an intellectual disability and was left for almost 20 years in a foster home which was the subject of serious concerns over sexual abuse.

She had been placed there in 1989 and remained there until 2009, despite the fact that other foster children had been removed by 1996.

On Saturday evening, the HSE said that there was an “error” in what it told the PAC.

It said that while it had intended to apologise to the young woman, there was a misunderstanding between local HSE officials and HSE senior management as to what the HSE’s intentions were in doing so, despite “quite an amount of preparation over the two days” before the officials met the woman.

In correspondence to the PAC, the executive said it had formally apologised to the young woman, known as “Grace”.

However, a whistleblower contacted the PAC to say that no such apology had been offered to the victim or to her mother.

In a statement issued on Saturday evening, the HSE said: “Despite a clear intent to do so, it is now evident that no official apology on behalf of the HSE [was] issued to ‘Grace’ or to her mother.

“The intention in early December was for the HSE to provide an update and an official apology to 47 service users, including ‘Grace’, who had contact over the years with the foster home at the centre of the abuse allegations.

“Letters, which included official apologies, [were] issued by registered post to 43 service users and their families . . . on December 9th and a verbal briefing including an official apology was to be given to ‘Grace’ and her mother on the next day (December 10th).”

‘No official apology’

The statement said that while individual local staff members of the HSE expressed their personal “remorse” to “Grace”, no official HSE apology was given.

“Having checked locally, the HSE did confirm to the PAC that an apology had been offered.

“However, it now transpires that the staff members concerned were referring to their own personal comments of remorse and not to an ‘official apology on behalf of the HSE’.

“The HSE obviously apologises sincerely to the PAC for this error. The HSE never has - nor would it ever - intentionally mislead any Dáil committee.”

“The HSE wants to confirm that it has apologised officially this week in person to ‘Grace’.

“This official apology has been done both in person and in writing, with the assistance of the professionals now caring for her.

“The HSE is acutely aware that ‘Grace’ experienced serious failings in her care in the South-Eastern Health Board and the earlier years of the HSE.

“For this, the HSE once again apologises today to ‘Grace’ and the other service-users concerned.”

Director general of the HSE, Tony O’Brien, has said he will appear before the PAC on Tuesday, to give a comprehensive explanation of the HSE’s handling of the case.